Writer: Ali Kennedy-Scott
Director: Adrian Barnes
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
The Public Reviews Rating:
A heart-felt piece based on the accounts and interviews with survivors of the Black Saturday bush-fires, this one-woman play, The Day The Sky Turned Black, is a touching testimonial to the 173 victims that died and the effect on those who lived to tell the tale. In 2009, with a temperature in the high 40s, Australia was put on alert and a fire ban put in place, however on 7th February numerous fires were ignited resulting in vast damage, injury and loss of life. Astoundingly, many of these blazes were the result of arson, and the play addresses this fact and the lack of a prevention or treatment programme available to adult arsonists, although not in any great depth.
Ali Kennedy-Scott plays a five characters ranging from a reporter-cum-narrator who experienced the fires first hand to a young boy called Aiden. These are delineated by distinct areas on the stage and the actress changing her hair style – a convention that was unnecessary and somewhat distracting given her characterisation was strong enough already – and give the audience a idea of the effects of the fires on each individual and their community as a whole. The story of Mabel and her husband Henry is particularly moving, as is that of Kerry, wracked with guilt as her son was one of the fire-setters.
Overall this is thoroughly-researched, nicely written, and well-performed, however it shies away from further addressing the possible reasons for the malicious arsons, instead lightly touching on it. This meant the piece seemed unsure of its intent, part remembrance part attempt to understand how this happened and how to prevent another similar future event. Perhaps some further development on that second point would make for a more challenging piece of theatre, but as it is it is engaging, evocative and well acted.
Until 26th August