Review: 6 Degrees Of Ned Kelly (Melita Rowston’s Shit Tourism)

melitarowstonVenue: Erskineville Town Hall (Erskineville NSW), Sep 2 – 6, 2015
Playwright: Melita Rowston
Director: Melita Rowston
Cast: Melita Rowston

Theatre review
The persistence of Ned Kelly’s legend in the consciousness of many Australians is symptomatic of the anti-authoritarian culture that we have inherited, since the dawn of European settlement. We are highly suspicious of governments and law enforcers, so it follows that myths about outlaws bear an eternal appeal. Melita Rowston’s 6 Degrees Of Ned Kelly is an exploration of her ties to that distinguished history, and an exercise in defining and aligning herself with an underdog characterised by his famed qualities of integrity and struggle. Rowston’s presentation takes the form of a relatively straightforward talk, with the support of a very well assembled slideshow. Her research is incredibly extensive, and the tales that she spins are surprising and fascinating, with fresh approaches to the Ned Kelly mystique that reveal how he remains relevant today.

Rowston’s presence is often tentative and nervous, but she relies on a warm enthusiasm to attain a comfortable connection with her audience, and the environment she creates is unquestionably inviting and accessible. We are not required to be aficionados, or indeed fans, of the Kelly gang, for we can all relate to the stories about family, and to that intuitive longing for a meaningful affiliation with the land on which we reside. Modernity has a propensity to keep people apart, and Rowston’s preoccupation with finding personal links that converge at a point of unity, is an admirable one. Fashion comes and goes, but the stuff that inspires us to be true and good, will resist annihilation.