Along with another Sydney Festival show, The Season, Which Way Home is a funny and poignant dramedy showcasing indigenous family life.
Written and performed by Katie Beckett, the semi-autobiographical plot focuses on the relationship between single father and daughter.
On a road trip from Ipswich to the family’s original home in Lightning Ridge, Tash (Beckett) and her dad (Tony Briggs) banter like any father and adult daughter; she worries about his health, he cracks jokes, they sing and reminisce. But it’s in ruminating on her mother’s death and questioning why they left their hometown afterwards that the stresses of being indigenous and a single parent surface. Flashbacks throughout show money struggles, the fear of his children being taken away and his keeping brave through it all.
There’s an excellent chemistry and playfulness between the two actors, which is a pleasure to watch, and the direction from Rachael Maza is straightforward and smooth, particularly when moving through various time frames. Emily Barrie’s design is crafty, with a map of North Queensland as backdrop. A continuous stream of sand flows down from above as a metaphor for their time on the Earth as well as their relationship with it, which serves as an excellent device through the play.
This is a show built to tour across the country and it will find some resonance with audiences of all walks of life. The only criticism is that it could be just a little longer.
Which Way Home was reviewed at Belvoir St Theatre on Saturday January 14 as part of Sydney Festival 2017.