Winton’s third stage play, “Shrine”, was inspired by those increasingly common memorials to young lives tragically taken, says director Kate Cherry, from WA’s Black Swan Theatre.
Newly premiered at the Heath Ledger Theatre in Perth, it will be seen at the Playhouse soon in the first professional production of a Winton play to be performed in Canberra.
“It’s the third time I’ve collaborated with Tim on a play,” Cherry tells me by phone from Perth. “Before this we’ve done ‘Rising Water’ and ‘Signs of Life’ – it’s been truly lovely collaborating with him.”
Winton, of course, is closely associated in the minds of Australian audiences with Neil Armfield’s seminal production, adapted by Nick Enright and Justin Monjo from his novel “Cloudstreet”.
There is one link between all three plays, in the collaboration between Winton, Cherry and the actor John Howard (not the politician).
Winton starts from the point of view of the character Adam, the father of Jack, who wipes himself out driving back to Perth from his parents’ beach house.
Howard plays the father and Paul Ashcroft plays Jack, who is a visible character and a palpable force in the play as his family come to terms, or not, with his death,
The set, designed and lit by Trent Suidgeest, has surrealistic elements, so that parts of an old car become a living room. The floor is made of bitumen, which becomes a beach, a road, a car park and a beautiful sea.
Just as you get with some of Patrick White plays, to which she likens Winton’s play writing, “there’s a moment of transcendence, a suggestion of how people might emerge from their suffering, or at least survive”.
“Shrine” by Tim Winton, at The Playhouse, September 26-29, bookings to 6275 2700 or canberratheatrecentre.com.au