This is a bold transfer of a Sydney Metropolitan Opera production (words by journalist Julianne Schultz, music by brother Andrew) inspired by a human rights enquiry into the fractious state of race relations in a small outback town. The action centres on an angry Aboriginal woman Miriam (mezzo Barambah), who's come to the local jail after her son's suspicious death in custody and finds herself thrown together with a judge on a fact-finding visit (baritone Pringle), the village drunk (tenor Bonnefin) and a surprisingly easygoing cop (bass Birch) - all marooned in the cells as the waters of a flash flood rise around them. The score builds in intensity as Barambah recounts centuries of her people's oppression. Piercing the innermost conflicts of the Australian psyche, all this might mean more on home ground, but to an outsider the result plays rather like a high art music video. The blending of realist and supernatural elements is ambitious, but the relative compactness of the material hardly allows convincing characterisation to emerge. A genuine curio, if not an unqualified success.
Cast and crew
The Bangarra Dance Theatre