BWW REVIEW: THE CAMPAIGN Shares The Tasmanian Gay Lesbian Rights Group's Path To Achieving Legal Acceptance Of Homosexuality In The Island State
Thursday 20th February 2020, 7pm, Reginald Theatre
Campion Decent's THE CAMPAIGN presents an incredibly insightful piece of verbatim theatre that shares the Tasmanian Gay Lesbian Rights Group's (TGLRG) fight to have homosexual acts decriminalized. Kim Hardwick delivers a stripped back expression of this informative and enlightening 90 minute summary of 30 years of history.
Martin Kinnane's design of four calico 'sails' forming a screen for projected slides forms the main focal feature of the performance. Five performers, Mathew Lee, Simon Crocker, Madeline MacRae, Jane Phegan and Tim McGarry utilize the four chairs and trestle tables of props to share the stories of activists, politicians, protestors, police, journalists, academics and artists. Projections mark the place and time of stories along with the rising statistics of support for the decriminalization of homosexuality.The story starts with the Salamanca Market protests in 1988 that started as a response to the Tasmanian Gay Law Reform Group (that would later change to Tasmanian Gay Lesbian Rights Group) being banned from holding a stall at the market. Over 100 arrests that were later dismissed due to incorrect application of jurisdiction were made over a series of weekends as police waited for the quiet protestors to cross the arbitrary line between safety and the market space. It sparked a desire for to have Tasmania's laws changed, something already achieved in Victoria (1980), Northern Territory (1983) and New South Wales (1984). THE CAMPAIGN plots out the fight, led by people like Rodney Croome, Nick Toonan, and Christine Milne, that was finally won in 1997, the last Australian state to abolish the laws.
Decent's text ensures that the rapid shifts between characters is easily followed and the important work is in safe hands with Hardwick's cast who ensure that the work is presented with connection and care. The interspersing of music through the story helps to reinforce the unifying and healing nature of music to communities and provides moments that help reinforce the energy of the performance. Hardwick utilizes a clean simplicity to represent things like reporters, parliamentary records and the technology of the time that had the activists waiting on a decision from the United Nations to be delivered by fax.THE CAMPAIGN is an enlightening piece of educational theatre that holds an importance for all Australians regardless of sexuality as it highlights the good and bad in people when it comes to those who supported and those who opposed the push to have politics taken out of the bedroom and treat everyone with respect and equality.
Image credit: Roger Lovell
Production Images: Jasmin Simmons