The opportunity to see the emergence of Sean Devine's first new play from its early stages has been a privilege. It was clear at the outset that this powerful, truthful actor and adventurous artistic director was also a fine playwright: the characters were complex and fascinating from the outset, they spoke naturally, the language had extraordinary flashes of poetry, and the theatrical conception of the piece was appealing. What has grown in the year and a half since has been story - the hardest part, really, for many playwrights, but foundational, essential. Without story, without a narrative that draws us in and pulls us along, it's not a play: it may be art, it may be poetry or movement or a performance piece or circus or spectacle, it may even involve a dramatic situation... But without story, without "what happens next, it's not drama.
Well, it turns out Sean is also a story-teller. I have marvelled to see him craft story out of the unquestionably dramatic circumstances of the lives of Norman Morrison, his daughter Emily, and that most self-contradictory and fascinating of 20th century figures, Robert McNamara. And he's done it the hard way, with non-sequential timelines and the interweaving of stories set several decades apart.
The result? A remarkably entertaining, gripping, and provoking piece of theatre which reminds us that the issues of conscience of another time may very well be as essential and as baffling today as they were half a century ago. Circumstances change, eras pass, but the challenges of our human experience remain strikingly the same.
Artistic Director, Pacific Theatre
October 21-November 12