It’s difficult not to enjoy a play that’s set in Brisbane. And QTC’s latest offering is all about Brisbane-but it’s a very different Brisbane from the one we have now.
Set in World War Two the play follows the American “invasion” through the eyes of teenage Danny Fisher (Dash Kruck). Danny lives in an inner city house with his mum and dad and big brother Frank; he is a dreamer, a writer not a cricketer.This does not endear him to the neighbourhood roughs who give him a hard time; in steps his best friend the rough and tumble Patty (Harriet Dyer) who protects and steers a rather ungrateful Danny through this tumultuous period. Frank (Conrad Coleby), Danny’s beloved brother, goes to war and is killed, his family disintegrates. Meanwhile, the Seppos (Yanks) have arrived upsetting the Brisbane gender imbalance, and the Battle of Brisbane occurs.
Though it’s a very masculine play, women aren’t ignored; indeed the best lines go to Patty (a Communist sympathiser). The “greek chorus” of Curtin, Monash and MacArthur fill in the political situation. There are plenty of jibes at the American approach to war “They’re Americans, they shoot everyone” the audience is told. But ultimately the story (and the advertising) revolves around Danny’s fascination for aircraft and flying and his coming of age.
The play hits it stride with its recreation of Brisbane and Aussie attitudes. The set recreates Brisbane’s houses on stilts; for those old enough to remember the days before garages when washing machines, bike parts, fruit crates and Dad’s ‘workshop’ were under the house. Perhaps the most telling moments are in Cloudland where Aussie men’s ineptitude in courting comes to the fore.
In all it’s a play that should appeal to anyone interested in Brisbane’s past.
QPAC Playhouse til 2nd May.
Words by Toni Johnson-Woods