Charcoal Creek

Charcoal Creek
By Marcel Dorney. Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong (NSW). June 5 – 16, 2012.

Merrigong Theatre Company’s staging of playwright Marcel Dorney’s original work Charcoal Creek was an intimate take on the darker side of Australia’s early history.

Director Anne-Louise Rentell and her team have put together a flawless production.

The opening sequence begins with Brigid’s (Catherine Moore) observations of the world around her, sometimes amusing, envious and a general reflection of life in the Illawarra.

Tom Regan (Johnny Carr) her dairy farmer husband is a typical Australian battler. Reserved until you get to know him, you would never guess the secrets he was hiding.

British newcomers Edward and Charlotte (Ed Wightman and Olivia Beardsley) settle into Charcoal Creek… the very British Edward is naïve and almost childlike in his interactions with Tom Regan. His wife Charlotte is a spoilt little girl.  

This is one of those rare plays where the script is so well written it allows the actors to let the story unfold and make each character their own.

Catherine Moore delivers a mesmerizing and powerful performance as Brigid, tormented by nightmares which are becoming a grim reality as she tries to comfort her husband on the brink of insanity, climaxing in a chilling moment when the stoic but not yet broken woman reveals the truth about his past racist hate crimes.

Johnny Carr’s portrayal of Tom left you with empathy for the character. Ed Wightman’s naïve British Edward is delightful as well as heartbreaking. Olivia Beardsley’s Charlotte was cold and calculating.

The set was almost surreal and left you feeling as though you were a fly on the wall watching the drama unfold.

Charcoal Creek is a resounding piece with a long life in it.

I feel very privileged to for Charcoal Creek to have been the first show I have seen at the IPAC theatre and with this high standard of theatre I cannot wait to go back!

Melinda Latsos

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