Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Queensland Theatre's Emerald City is a Powerful Looking Glass at our past and present

Article Pixel

Queensland Theatre's Emerald City is a Powerful Looking Glass at our past and presentDirected by Sam Strong, Queensland Theatre's Emerald City has a powerful commentary on humankind's struggle to do the 'right' thing when faced with temptations of wealth.

'THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ. EVERYONE COMES HERE ALONG WITH THEIR YELLOW BRICK ROADS LOOKING FOR THE ANSWERS TO THEIR PROBLEMS AND ALL THEY FIND ARE THE DEMONS WITHIN THEMSELVES.'

David Williamson's work is set in the culture of entrepreneurialism of 1980s Sydney, the perfect setting in which to investigate the questions of ethics, integrity and the idea of 'selling yourself out' for commercial and financial success. Jason Klarwein plays screenwriter Colin and Nadine Gardner plays publisher (Kate) who, even though they both rip into each other for agreeing to commercial projects that have no intellectual or artistic integrity, both are seduced by the scent of success. By having both characters experience the same emotional stakes, the same conflicts, the same inner truths as they let ambition consume their lives, it fully highlighted how as human beings, we suffer the same agonies and ancient emotions.

Actors Klarwein and Gardner play the characters' creative marriage beautifully, balancing their envious, revengeful, ambitious selves with their own personal agonies of having a bad marriage, not knowing how to be good parents and their fear of living a life that they're not sure if they want to have. Another fantastic casting choice was Rhys Muldoon, who plays Mike, a corrupt and equally as ambitious 'filmmaker' who we grow to both hate and love as we come to the realisation that he's just like us and for most of us, represents someone who we don't want to become.

Dale Ferguson's minimalist set design is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life and so, so clever. I honestly still can't get over how clever it is. The characters are trapped in a revolving glasshouse (which David Walters has filled with lots of pretty lights) and when they're standing outside of the glasshouse, they're in an even bigger glasshouse, as represented by the glass shards which sparkle as they hang from the ceiling. It's such a powerful metaphor for not just the thematic elements the play explores but of societies perception of the heaven, overlooking the harbour. One of my favourite moments was when Klarwein was laying down the scripts for his screenplay on the floor and constantly shuffling them as the house was revolving as well as all of the moments when we could see the actors interacted with their reflections in the mirror, reminding us of how 'vain' we've become.

When I interviewed Strong a few months ago about this work, his final comment was that his hope is that the audience gains a fresh appreciation of David Williamson's work and will be surprised by how fantastic a play Emerald City is. And he did just that.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Emerald City | Queensland Theatre

Directed by Sam Strong | Written by David Williamson


Related Articles View More Australia - Brisbane Stories   Shows

From This Author Virag Dombay