An Indigenous Trilogy - Act Two: Masterpiece

An Indigenous Trilogy - Act Two: Masterpiece
By Glen Shea. La Mama Courthouse. Nov 15 – 27, 2022.

Peter was an Aboriginal juvenile justice worker from the Stolen Generation, burnt out and defeated by a flawed system - that was in Act One. In Masterpiece, Peter has now retreated to the desert, living a hermit life as an artist, where his life is governed by nature and sandstorms. The second act of An Indigenous Trilogy is an astounding singular play by Glen Shea, an acclaimed award-winning writer, performer, and director.

Peter (Glen Shea) has been on the plonk; depressed and tired of life. In the middle of a drunken hallucination, he is awakened by a beautiful intruder, Hope (Lucy Payne), a runaway carrying a white suitcase and a dark secret past. They strike up a friendship, she becomes Peter’s muse his “angel of the desert”. But evil is looming; caught between the dust storms and catching the “red rattler” (train), the evil Tamsin (Syd Brisbane) is out there looking for his fleeing wife. When Tamsin discovers Hope’s whereabouts all hell breaks loose.

Shea has meticulously crafted a dichotomy of two differing spiritual and material worlds that collide and fracture. The initial bonding between Peter and Hope is strikingly moving; with similar and contrasting monologues, paced, and punctuated with light and sound, providing stunning dramatic tension that unites two people, a generation apart.

Masterpiece reflects on the great divide between the indigenous and the white people who both inhabit the land. As a person of the Stolen Generation, he yearns to understand his cultural identity and to seek closure. Shea gives strength to his dialogue with powerful symbolism; when Peter attends to the sick flower he explains to Hope that listening, caring, and offering it sunlight is when its heart can only begin to heal.

Peter is a fierce and powerful character; he yearns for clarity and truth. He risks his life by taking in a stranger and finds an accidental reconciliation with her. Hope is a victim of domestic violence. Peter gives charity to Hope, and she risks her own life only to restore faith in him.

Shea has masterfully directed himself and his two actors with precision and care, they give generous and captivating performances. His text is multi-layered with symbolic meaning and metaphor. The set is reflective of the desert outback and dressed in original indigenous paintings by Merryn Apma. The space is bathed in moody noir lighting and indigenous motifs while the sound broods with underlying menace.

Flora Georgiou

Photographer: Darren Gill

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