James Morrison being brilliant on trumpet and piano was the best thing about the undernourished Boundary Street. Set in a dance club on the South side of Brisbane in 1942, the show used as background the infamous “Battle of Brisbane” when Yankee and Aussie soldiers fought on the city streets. Claimed by the director as a ‘play with music,’ the piece came across as more like a musical documentary than anything. Standard and original songs were linked with dramatic fragments of the event which never seemed to coalesce as a whole. It was a bit like eating a slither of pie and not the whole piece. And with the playwright only showing fragments of drama it was a little hard for the audience to invest any emotional connection in the characters.
Under the circumstances the cast did a surprisingly good job. Matt Dyktynski was a likable ‘ocker’ MC, Emma Pask as Louise sang well as a forties vocalist, but it was Gina Williams’ Rosie who imbued her role with truth. As a shy Aboriginal girl waiting for a chance to blossom, her performance was believable and honest. And she was no slouch when it came to her vocals, putting her numbers across in true diva fashion.
Michael Scott-Mitchell’s set design worked well in the Powerhouse space, especially the elevated bridge above the stage. The “battle” was effectively done in slow-motion with chairs and tables being overturned while film footage of the actual battle showed on the set. For a show about a dance club though, the audience was somewhat shortchanged for dancing with only one decent routine in the first act and one in the second.
Images: (top) Terry Yeboah, Kenneth Ransom, Damon Lockwood, Christopher Kirby. Photographers Gary Marsh and Henrik Tived & (lower) James Morrison, Clare Moss and Kenneth Ransom. Photographer: Robert Frith.