Away by Michael Gow
Michael Gow’s AWAY was a big box-office success story for La Boite in 1997 and particularly so with youth audiences. Renowned Australian theatre critic Katharine Brisbane wrote to director Sue Rider to tell her how moved she was by the production: "I think it is the best I have seen”.[i]
In her Director’s Notes in the program, Sue Rider wrote:
Michael Gow's AWAY received its first production eleven years ago and was immediately hailed as exceptional theatre. Since then it has been produced all over Australia as well as overseas, has attained a permanent place in the school curriculum, and has spawned probably thousands of earnest assignments. A decade later, the status of being labelled a contemporary classic and a significant part of Australia's literary heritage has not dimmed the original, which remains as fresh and startlingly relevant today as it did at that first performance. Set in the summer of 1967-68, AWAY celebrates a time of innocence for Australia, heralding a period of upheaval and change. Taking ordinary Australians as his starting-point, Gow reaches beyond the limitations of familiarity and transforms the world of domesticity and the awkwardness of youth to embrace the larger universal concerns of pain, prejudice, reconciliation, healing and compassion. At the same time, he never loses touch with people's everyday hopes and fears as they live from one moment to the next.
AWAY is a remarkable mixture of fantasy and naturalism, broad comedy and sensitive realism, making it one of Australia's most accessible, tender and insightful plays. Its direct echoes of Shakespeare's plays lift it into an enchanting realm of pure theatre, demanding joyful energy from performers, as well as an understanding of the darker side of life. It has been a special pleasure to direct this exhilarating play with such a strong and responsive cast.