The City of Gold is a powerful first play written by Meyne Wyatt. It is an outstanding achievement that allows you to go walkabout in an Indigenous Australian’s shoes.
It is based around three siblings (and their mate) who gradually work through past fights and grievances to unite and bury their father.
The play is set in Kalgoorlie (an unforgettable unique town that I have visited). The set design is fairly basic, just an old Queenslander house. I would have liked a couple of potted trees or bush greenery. As a result, our attention is focused on the dialogue and acting.
Fortunately, the actors from the Griffith Theatre Company do a commendable job and the script is well written. There are some powerful monologues – almost rap-like. We are introduced to many aboriginal words and phrases, and Australian colloquialisms. Why don’t we hear these more often?
The play doesn’t shy away from difficult topics like racism and dealing with feelings after a death in the family. You can tell the script has been written from personal experience. It is important that we hear how Indigenous Australian feel about the way they are treated and the impact it has on their lives. Their voice is an important part of Australian culture and identity.
Meyne Wyatt said the story had to be told. “Over the past few years things have happened, there has been something in the air, which all came together to make me actually write this,” he said.
“My dad passed away in 2015 and 18 months later I found myself really disillusioned with the world, the industry and myself. The roles I was auditioning for and getting, reflected the fact I had lost my passion. At the same time in my hometown of Kalgoorlie, a young 14-year-old Aboriginal boy was killed by a hit-and-run driver, who ended up serving just 15 months. And down south, the Adam Goodes story was playing out on and off the footy field. This series of events prompted me to sit down and write City of Gold.”
Meyne said the story has the potential to be divisive. “There’s absolutely controversial lines, acts and characters in City of Gold. There’s also lots of humour. The story dives into dark and deep territory, with the humour a great release valve. I want audiences to find their own spark from this story; and what they find important, is what’s important.”
You might not like the ending. I feel like this play would do better with overseas audiences. However, this isn’t your typical Hollywood box office production. There are moments of humour and comradery punctuated by fighting and arguing. Overall it’s a bittersweet ride.
About City of Gold: The Story
Breythe is a young actor making his way in Sydney when news of his father’s death calls him home to Kalgoorlie. Being back on Country and stretched between the politics of his feisty sister Carina and his dispirited brother Mateo, Breythe struggles to understand how he fits into his family or his community. His father haunts his dreams and an omen of death follows him. This is an electrifying glimpse into the entanglement of present-day and ‘traditional’ Indigenous culture through the eyes of a young man. The world premiere season of City of Gold will continue after Brisbane at Griffin Theatre Company in Sydney from July 26.
Cast Includes Jeremy Ambrum, Mathew Cooper, Maitland Schnaars, Shari Sebbens, Anthony Standish, Christopher Stollery, Meyne Wyatt
Buy tickets at www.queenslandtheatre.com.au