Thursday, May 14, 2009

Windmill Baby

The last of our opening nights. Windmill Baby is an exquisitely crafted, stunningly performed piece of Aboriginal Australian drama, by one of the key figures in the making of the Festival, David Milroy. It's a full two years since he and I sat in Perth, talking about the idea of bringing it to London - and last night there it was, moving its audience to gales of laughter and floods of tears. Fantastic.

The play is very much in the storytelling tradition of the Aboriginal people. One actor, Rohanna Angus, tells the story directly to the audience and plays all the characters. It's an amazing acting achievement - she gives each one a subtly different vocal and physical characterisation. It was hard to believe that she'd been to the doctor with a bad throat in the morning - she was performing such feats of vocal dexterity. There's one glorious moment when an audience member is brought on stage to listen to "the potato story". Last night, it was a particularly shy person, which made it very funny indeed. It's one of those brilliant pieces of theatrical writing that is hilarious whatever the unpredictable element does - like the way Shakespeare uses the dog in Two Gents.

Before the show, I did a conversation with Frank Davey about the role of the Elders in Aboriginal society. It's incredibly important that they brought Uncle Frank with them to the Festival - it gives them security, and it gives us authenticity and validation.

The show is at Riverside Studios till Sunday, and the number is 020 8237 1111.

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