Tom Holloway’s latest play, written as a vehicle for actor Robert Jarman, is spell-binding, gut-wrenching, and shockingly subversive.
Ever since Sophocles, storytellers have mined a rich vein of drama in the themes of human frailty and transgression. They are the bread and butter of Greek myth, Shakespearean tragedy, the Old and New Testaments.
It’s somewhat unexpected to find Vengeance, Hatred and Forgiveness in contemporary Australian drama, yet they loom large in Tom Holloway’s newly-minted piece, As We Forgive.
Billed as ‘three Morality Plays for an amoral age’, As We Forgive summons up a trio of ordinary Australians, each a modern-day Everyman who accounts for his actions and motivations, not to some redeeming deity (the ethical framework here is decidedly secular) but to us, the audience, in direct first-person narrative.
Each has been trespassed against, and each has his own cross to bear: redressing a terrible wrong, bitter resentment held onto for a lifetime, the stain of a deed that can never be washed away.
Never overly polemical, these tales engage us from the off, thanks to Holloway’s unerring feel for the patterns of colloquial speech and the remarkable talents of solo performer, Robert Jarman.
On stage for 80 minutes, Jarman draws us in like a raconteur at a dinner party, delivering his monologues with naturalism akin to confidences between friends. His stories are spell-binding, gut-wrenching, riveting, even as their sentiments are shockingly subversive.
Director Julian Meyrick offers simple but effective staging; a chair or two, an atmospheric soundtrack composed by Raffaele Marcellino and played live by cellist Antony Morgan, and projections that feature the moody, artful photography of Lisa Garland.
Bringing together creative professionals at the top of their game, this excellent production from Tasmania Performs premiered last week in Hobart as part of Tasmania’s Ten Days on the Island festival.
After a month-long tour of Tasmania, it can be seen in April at the Canberra Theatre Centre as part of the Collected Works Australia 2013 season.
Now touted as one of the hottest writers in the country, Tom Holloway created the characters in As We Forgive especially for Robert Jarman, who mentored and supported the writer since his earliest days. For them, and us, the fruits of their work together are more than ample.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
As We Forgive
By Tom Holloway
Director and Dramaturge: Julian Meyrick
Set Designers: Jill Munro & Julian Meyrick
Lighting Designer: Nicholas Higgins
Composer: Raffaele Marcellino
Photographer: Lisa Garland
Producer: Annette Downs
Actor: Robert Jarman
Cellist: Antony Morgan
Theatre Royal Backspace, Hobart until 16 March
Huonville Town Hall, 19 March
Campbelltown Memorial Hall, 20 March
Portland Memorial Hall, St Helens, 21 March
Earl Arts Centre, Launceston 23, 24 March
Ten Days on the Island 2013
15 – 24 March
First published on
What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level