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Photo by Michele Aboud

Sydney Theatre Company presents A Sydney Theatre Company (STC) and State Theatre Company of South Australia (STCSA) production, KRYPTONITE by Sue Smith, at Wharf 1 Theatre, Hickson Rd. Walsh Bay. 11 September – 18 October.

KRYPTONITE, by Sue Smith is a new Australian two-hander, one act play of approximately 90 minutes in length. It is the best new Australian play I have seen this year, maybe, for several years!

Sue Smith is an award winning writer, mostly for television, including: ABC tele-movie MABO, ABC miniseries BASTARD BOYS, for SBS, RAN: Remote Area Nurse, which she co-wrote with John Alsop and Alice Addison (and much more). Her play, STRANGE ATTRACTOR was performed at the Griffin in 2009. THE KREUTZER SONATA, was part of the Adelaide Festival in 2013.

KRYPTONITE begins on a university campus in May,1989, and covers a 25 year span to the present year, 2014, jumping backwards and forward in time. We meet a smart but, relatively feckless surfer student from Collaroy, a would-be environmentalist, at a public demonstration, stripping naked and unfurling a banner in support of the Chinese students demonstrating in Tiananmen Square, in Beijing: Dylan (Tim Walter). We, also, meet, Lian (Ursula Mills), a young Chinese student, recently arrived in Sydney, attending class and trying to survive in very uncomfortable and unsophisticated circumstances. Language and poverty just two of those difficult circumstances. The Beijing, Tiananmen Square news, an enormous and awesome event in her life, and those of the other Chinese students, are partly bewildered by the action of the local students. The worlds that both these two young people have come from, in almost every way, could not be more different. We watch them engage and educate each other. In 2014, Dylan has become a member of Federal Government, for the Greens Party. Lian has become a dual citizen of both countries, and is a successful small business woman in China and Australia.

Geordie Brookman, the Director of this play

Moments of tectonic shift within our lives can be on the micro and macro. … In her beautiful play Sue (Smith) has made the micro macro and vice versa. She intertwines Lian and Dylan’s lives in a series of tricky intersections with moments of local, national and global shift. Each intersection has its own immediate consequence and ongoing repercussions as two striving but flawed people try to hang on to each other.

What Ms Smith manages, is to engage us with both our hearts and our heads. I was moved to tears, sometimes, by the heart ‘tugs’ of the two characters, not least because of the enchanting performance of Ms Mills and the calibrations of heart and intelligence that Mr Walter brought to bear on his choices. These two artists, under the sensitive guidance of Mr Brookman, created not only the personal world and politics of the characters with finesse, but also the bigger cultural and political world of their circumstances, with significant uncluttered clarity. It was an extremely satisfactory night in the theatre.

I have spoken of being moved, not least because of the performances, but I need to say, and confess, that I was, honestly, moved to tears with the expertness of Ms Smith’s writing. At last, an Australian play with heart and head firmly balanced and in harmony – a rarity, indeed, in my experience, of late in Sydney.

The other elements of the production, the Set and Costume Design by Victoria Lamb – two close walls of crumpled textured paper, with a centre double door entrance, that all fall to reveal a wall of television images of the final Tiananmen Incidents, with minimal movable properties of only four chairs and necessary hand props; the dramatic, storytelling usage of the lighting plot, by Nicholas Rayment, accompanied by subtle and telling Composition by DJ Trip, all contrive an immersion for us, as an audience, to imagine, conjure, a world populated by more than two characters, and into many landscapes and rooms. That I was engaged so imaginatively and so emotionally was a pleasure that only theatre at its best can draw us into.

This play, this production, so far this season, deserves your attention. It travels to Adelaide soon, for its season – but ought to be seen everywhere, indeed. Congratulations.

P.S. Ticket = $85.00, concession.
Program = $10.00.
Dinner = $24.00
Taxi (out of the STC Arts Precinct – no other transport available) = $37.00.

Total = $156.00.