[THEATRE/PERFORMANCE ~ SA]
Star Theatre Two – Star Theatres, Sun 24 Feb.
If you’ve ever read about the Kokoda campaign, or seen one of the films you’ll wonder how this story could be told in a one-man theatre performance. It certainly is an ambitious undertaking and is only the third play that Peter Maddern has written – and actually it covers the ground quite well. The stage is simple and effective for the task, add a smoke machine and a few old news video reels – they are the real deal from around that time in PNG.
Private Powell (Jayden Marshall), a cocky young bloke around his mates, grows into a reluctant hardened battle veteran, too experienced with death to be comfortable. We hear about his mates, their treatment as ‘chocolate soldiers’, the militia who signed up to help, but not fight offshore and who are belatedly sent to the front lines despite having very little experience actually shooting the rifles they’ve been issued.
Jayden does a splendid job as a young actor, exactly the age that many of these young volunteers were. There are a few times where his lines are a little indistinct, but his use of the stage, expression and empathy for the role are all right up there (a mixture of bravado, fear and mateship). The writer dishes out both praise and condemnation for the leaders of this campaign – quite fairly I reckon! There were privates who took leadership roles at times, as there was nobody else left standing!
A fascinating insight into the human struggle in the big picture of war and a great way to get an introduction to some Australian History that we should all be aware of!
Kokoda continues at various venues, at various times, until Sun 16 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.