The Hansard Monologues (Seymour Centre)

hansardVenue: York Theatre, Seymour Centre (Sydney NSW), Jul 23, 26 & 27
Playwright (Verbatim): Katie Pollock, Paul Daley
Director: Tim Jones
Actors: Camilla Ah Kin, Tony Llewellyn-Jones, David Roberts

Theatre review
This work encapsulates the last three years of the Australian parliament in two hours, utilising its most memorable and powerful speeches to create a series of snapshots, of political and social life in contemporary history. These are important moments that have guided recent public discourse, and as such The Hansard Monologues: A Matter Of Public Importance is a theatrical work that possesses uttermost relevance to all our lives.

Performances in the piece are thoroughly interesting. The players make different choices at different times, moving from plain matter-of-fact reading of transcripts, to mimicry of recognisable voices and gestures (Llewellyn-Jones’ take on Christopher Pyne is a crowd-pleaser), and passionate renditions of moralistic arguments. With these parliamentary speeches transformed into “scripts” for actors, the text surprises with its frequent use of highly-charged, emotive language, and how it translates so readily from a political space to a theatrical one, if in fact they are all that different. The actors must be praised for having not just a good handle on the speech rhythms of each different MP, but also for their understanding of all the material, which delivers coherence and lucidity to what is essentially a montaged creation by very clever playwrights.

Hansard presents issues that affect us, its themes concern us, and its re-enactments familiar to us all. At this crucial point in time as we approach our next federal election and become more aware of our part in the democratic process, watching this production is an incredibly intense experience, with our senses so heightened and our minds so alive. The stakes are not only high, but also irrefutably real. While some of the characters may appear bizarre, this is far from fictional stuff.