Reviewed by Tatum Stafford
From its uncomfortably familiar opening to its bleak and powerful end, Meyne Wyatt has struck theatre gold with his riveting work, ‘City of Gold’, which had its Perth (Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar) premiere on Saturday night.
The story surrounds Breythe, an actor who heads back home to Kalgoorlie when he hears from a messenger bird that his father has passed away. Upon his return, he soon remembers and is somewhat haunted by many of the reasons he left the small town with a dark history of over-policing and overt racism that has caused so much harm to his family, and his fellow First Nations people.
The play’s writer Meyne Wyatt gives a tremendous performance as protagonist Breythe. Not only is Wyatt incredibly charismatic, likeable and bursting with energy, but his passion for storytelling and calling out injustices is a feat to witness. Without giving too much away, his formidable monologue which opens Act 2 is worth the price of admission alone.
A stellar supporting cast surround Wyatt, including Simone Detourbet as Breythe’s sister Carina, Mathew Cooper as Breythe’s brother Mateo, Ian Michael as Breythe’s cousin Cliffhanger, and Trevor Ryan as Breythe’s dad. The chemistry between this troupe is palpable. Watt’s writing for these family scenes is sharp and feels incredibly familiar, and these actors are clearly at the top of their craft and are phenomenally captivating to watch. Props also to Myles Pollard and St John Cowcher who played a number of supporting roles throughout the piece (Pollard’s ‘Director’ role was a personal favourite).
Alongside the incredibly powerful writing and performances, one of the most striking aspects of this show is its set, designed by Tyler Hill. Again, without giving too much away, it features seemingly endless rows of wooden beams that cast members can navigate to add beautiful layers to the storytelling (supported by Verity Hampson’s slick lighting design). Props also to Design Consultant Zoe Atkinson.
Director Shari Sebbens and Assistant Director Daley Rangi should be commended for their fantastic staging of this emotional and powerful piece. Not one moment felt rushed or dragged out, and all emotional beats had plenty of impact. This show displays a very well-oiled machine of cast and creatives.
The subject matter of this piece could not be more pertinent than right now. As Wyatt mentions in the show’s program, “Just last week, that white police offer [who shot and killed Aboriginal teen Kumanjaya Walker] got off. There is now 500+ Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and not one conviction for any of the people responsible for any of those deaths. My play talks about and depicts the injustice of it all. So, we rage on!” A big congratulations to Wyatt and this powerhouse team for such an important piece of theatre that I strongly believe Perth theatregoers will feel very fortunate to see.
Image Credit: Daniel J Grant