Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Oct 7 – Nov 3, 2013
Playwright: Campion Decent
Director: Les Solomon
Actors: Tom Sharah, Brett O’Neill, Gael Ballantyne, James Wright, Emily Kennedy, Matt Young, Diana Perini
First produced in 1993 (and again in 2003), Three Winters Green arrived at a time when the AIDS epidemic was still a crucial force in galvanising gay communities in the developed world. Campion Decent’s script is a beautiful representation of that generation’s experiences, and his depiction of their struggles is an important documentation that needs to be borne witness time and time again.
The emphasis on Les Solomon’s 2013 direction remains on the devastating effects of the AIDS virus, but other elements in Decent’s writing make the play more than a relic of recent lgbt history. It deals with uniquely queer experiences of family, the closet, and homophobic violence, all of which are hugely relevant themes that resonate strongly, even for the most jaded of contemporary Australians.
Tom Sharah is the lead, and his work is a major factor in the success of this production. Sharah has a thorough and sensitive understanding of the text, and his portrayal of Francis is deeply affecting. He plays the flamboyant character with great humour and delivers a lot of big laughs, but he also cuts through with beautiful, subtle moments that convey truthful character development and heartfelt emotion. It is a heartbreakingly sublime performance. Brett O’Neill is memorable in his supporting role as Andrew. He is naturally charismatic, and impresses with simplicity and authenticity. The restraint in his acting contrasts well with other cast members, and allows him to shine brightly through.
The play concludes with the unfurling of a quilt that was part of the Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt Project, that commemorates and honours those who have lost their lives to the disease. The poignancy of the quilt’s presence, along with the angels and the mourners they leave behind, cannot be understated. George Orwell said, “the most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” May Three Winters Green return with greater emerald vibrancy at each passing season, and may we never forget the foundations of our shared histories, even if the communities we live in become increasingly fragmented.