“Of course you don’t want to be a communist. No-one in their right mind wants to be a communist.”
It’s 1965, and things are a bit slow in the South Bendigo branch of the Communist Party of Australia.
Sales of The Tribune have slumped, no one’s very interested in the resident Maoist’s slide nights about life in China, and lighting a revolutionary fire in the belly of rural Victoria isn’t progressing too well.
Enter Martin, a young and eager recruit, whose zeal is welcomed by the group, including Greek couple George and Eli Tassakis, even as his mum despairs of his long hair and his rejection of church and army reserve.
But Martin has a secret: he’s been recruited by ASIO to spy on the comrades, and he’s about to get his new friends into serious trouble.
Inspired by a true story, Melissa Reeves creates a whimsical study of small-town Australia, Cold War fear-mongering, friendship and betrayal, laced with dry humour and keenly observed relationships.
Reeves is an unashamedly left-wing writer, with a bent for political theatre which includes a stint at the Melbourne Workers Theatre where she co-authored Who’s Afraid of the Working Class, produced at New Theatre in 2001. Her idols include Bertolt Brecht, Franca Rame and Dario Fo, and she believes left-wing theatre makes the best theatre!
In light of New Theatre’s own fraught history with ASIO’s ‘spooks’, it’s rather fitting that this marvellous contemporary Australian political satire is being given its Sydney revival on our stage.
Winner: 2005 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award – the Louis Esson Prize for Drama
Winner: 2005 AWGIE Award for Best New Play
New Theatre’s President, Rosane McNamara, will be helming this production, with Glenn Braithwaite as Assistant Director, and a design team of Tom Bannerman (set), Michael Schell (lighting) and making her New Theatre debut, Aibhlinn Stokes (costumes).
Says Rosane: “The first thing that attracted me to The Spook is Melissa Reeves’ masterly use of satire to prick the bubble of Australia’s disorganized response to the Cold War and the perceived threat of a Communist takeover.
“I’m in awe of how she maintains the humour throughout the play, even when things that at first seemed amusing turn quite dark.
“I was also attracted by the themes explored in the play and their relevance to Australia even today: the things that we are afraid of may have changed since the 1960s but what hasn’t changed is the use of scare-mongering, xenophobia and pseudo-patriotism to limit free speech and deter us from questioning the political games being played around us.”
The cast includes a mix of returning actors (Lib Campbell, Zoe Crawford, Jodine Muir, and Mark Norton) and New Theatre debutantes (Tristan Black, Jack Elliot Mitchell, Henry Gair, Laura Munro, Emmanuel Nicolaou and Nicole Michel Toum).
Director Rosane McNamara
Set Designer Tom Bannerman
Lighting Designer Michael Schell
Costume Designer Aibhlinn Stokes
Sound Designer/Assistant Director Glenn Braithwaite
Production Manager Louise Fischer
Stage Manager Harriet Cadell
ASM Yanna Kokinakos
Lighting & Sound Operator Ricci Costa
Cast Tristan Black, Lib Campbell, Zoe Crawford, Jack Elliot Mitchell
Henry Gair, Laura Munro, Jodine Muir, Emmanuel Nicolaou
Mark Norton, Nicole Michel Toum
6 – 31 July 2021
Preview Tue 6 July 7:30pm
Press Night Wed 7 July 7:30pm
Thu – Sat 7:30pm
Final performance Sat 31 July 2pm
Concession, Groups (6+) $30
Thrifty Thursdays $22