When did you first encounter Michael Gow’s iconic play, Away?
I first read Away in high school. At the time it didn’t make much of an impact on me. I think analysing the play through the limited lens of ‘themes’ and ‘discourses’ all in preparation for some dreaded essay distracted me from its heart. I read it again some years later in drama school and found myself really moved by it.
How accessible is the period setting to Australians in 2017?
Michael wrote the play in the 1980s. So even from its first inception it was looking back on another era, which can possibly feel like a commentary on the 1960s. But its content is all very prevalent today. Classism, xenophobia and gender expectations are still part of our nation’s conversation. But at the core of Away’s story are three sets of parents desperately trying to protect their children from the sadness that life can inflict, and all in different stages of letting go of what they can’t control. This is absolutely a story that stands the test of time.
What can you tell us about the character you play, Tom?
Matt Lutton has directed this production of Away to be seen through the eyes of Tom, a young actor on the losing end of his long fight with cancer. As he grapples to work out what is now important to him and what is achievable in the time he has left, Tom takes on a Puck-like existence, invisibly observing the people around him, dipping in and out of the action. What Tom experiences, imagines and dreams all becomes part of the character’s realities.
What else will keep you busy for the year ahead?
Away will keep me busy until the end of May, which is a great start to the year. Beyond that, I have a few things in the works that will hopefully come to fruition. A lazy holiday somewhere is definitely within my sights too.
Away runs Saturday February 18 – Saturday March 25 at Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House.