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Review: Atlantis at the New Theatre

Review by Alison Stoddart


If you enjoy live theatre, extra loud and slightly exaggerated acting, minimal sets and sincere humour, you should go see Atlantis at Newtown’s New Theatre. The play, adapted from the novel of the same name and published in 2017, was written by multiple award-winning playwright Lally Katz who nowadays lives with her husband in Los Angeles. Katz was born in the U.S. but educated in Australia and as such has gifted the Aussie theatre scene many wonderfully crafted scripts over the years including The Black Swan of Trespass which in 2005 won the Excellence in Writing and Best Theatre Production at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.


Katz is clever and she is funny and this play showcases all of that.  Her formational years were spent in New Jersey and up to the age of eight she lived there imagining what life should and could be. After her move to Australia, you sense the cultural clash with differences in values, morals and acceptable behaviour which are highlighted with her return to America as an adult.  The role of Lally is played deliciously by Aussie actress Georgia Britt.  

What appeals about Atlantis most is the autobiographical content. The ‘knowing’ that the playwright suffered, and or experienced these things in real life, along with how she dealt with them, particularly the heartache, health and ambition issues, is both candidly satisfying and fascinating. For instance. When her boyfriend shatters her world and belief that ’true love exists forever’ by walking out on her when her body clock is ticking at 35 years of age, she is awoken from her slumber of ignorance. Adding to her heartbroken pain is real anguish and unpleasantness, too, when she discovers that her ovaries twist and turn, foreshadowing her impending turmoil. This starts a massive chain-reaction when she realizes her window of creating a family is closing so she sets out, doggedly, to find a new mate. And that pursuit takes her back to the United States.

 

The characters she meets along the way, her at times hilarious interaction with them, some she even sleeps with, all of whom she believes in, form a truly fascinating adventure and odyssey to find a father for her eggs.


That ‘quest’ governs her every move but also makes her question her yearning to start a family. Is she merely succumbing to society’s attitude to childless woman? And when a U.S. cab driver serendipitously tells her that the world is about to be swallowed up by nature and sink to the bottom of the ocean like Atlantis, she takes it as a sign to intensify her search for a soul mate.


Britt is energetic and charismatic in her role as Lally.  And she needs to be as this two- and half-hour epic story has her front and centre most of the time. She is to be highly applauded for that. As should the entire nine person cast who play 40 different roles and who are ably directed by Tiffany Wong. They interact beautifully and even their American accents sound believable.


The set is a simple but clever design of windows which enable the scene-within-scene drama technique of cross cutting.  


Undeniably, there is a great deal more to this play, but the autobiographical substance will captivate and leave you wanting to know more about Lally Katz.


Which is about as good as it gets for a writer.



Image Credit: Chris Lundie


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