Away

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For other uses, see Away (disambiguation).
Away
Away, by Michael Gow.jpg
Author Michael Gow
Translator Away
Country Australia
Language English
Genre Play
Publisher Currency Press
Publication date
1986
Media type Print (Paperback)
ISBN 978-0-86819-211-6

Away is a play written by the Australian playwright Michael Gow. First performed by the Griffin Theatre Company in 1986, it tells the story of three internally conflicted families holidaying on the coast for Christmas, 1968. It has become one of the most widely produced Australian plays of all time and is part of the Higher School Certificate syllabi or general High School Curriculum in many states, including Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

Each of the three families hopes that the holiday will resolve the crisis that they face. Roy, a headmaster, and Coral, his wife, realise that their marriage is falling apart as they grieve the death of their son in the Vietnam War. Tom, an English immigrant and a pupil at Roy's school, knows that he is dying of leukaemia even though his parents, Harry and Vic, have yet to tell him. Tom's family know that this could be their last holiday together, so they are determined to have fun. The third family comprises uptight, martyrish mother, Gwen, her husband, Jim, and their daughter, Meg, who has become friends with Tom because of their mutual appearances in the recent school play. There is a mutual affection between Meg and Tom that is explored and challenged during a sex scene, where Tom - aware that his life is soon to end - transforms into a desperate weeping puppy and begs Meg to "Let (him) do it to (her)". After a storm the three families find themselves thrown together on the beach that is the play's setting and their antagonism is explored and resolved.

With the play's conscious nods to Shakespeare (it opens with the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and ends with King Lear) Gow emphasises the performativity of individual human responses to death, racism, class, and relationships. Gow sees the play as largely autobiographical

In 2005, a national Australian tour commemorated the play's 20th anniversary. It was a co-production with The Queensland Theatre Company and The Griffin Theatre Company. Michael Gow is now the Artistic Director of The Queensland Theatre Company and the return of 'Away' to the Griffin was a cause for great celebration. The production then embarked on a sold out national tour.

It is interesting to note that when the play was performed in the USA, many Americans did not realise Australia had been involved in the Vietnam War. They did not realise that many young Australians were killed in the Vietnam War or how unpopular the war had been due to conscription.

Characters[edit]

  • Tom
  • Roy
  • Coral
  • Meg
  • Gwen
  • Jim
  • Vic
  • Harry
  • Leonie
  • Rick
  • Miss Latrobe
  • First Camper
  • Second Camper
  • Third Camper
  • Fourth Camper

First Production[edit]

Away was first performed by the Griffin Theatre Company on 7 January 1986 at the Stables Theatre, Sydney, with the following cast:

TOM: Christian Hodge

ROY: Benjamin Franklin

MEG: Angela Toohey

GWEN: Andrea Moor

JIM: David Lynch

CORAL: Vanessa Downing

HARRY: Geoff Morrell

VIC: Julie Godfrey

LEONIE: Angela Toohey

RICK: Christian Hodge

Campers, hotel guests, fairies etc. were played by the company.

Directed by Peter Kingston

Designed by Robert Kemp

Lighting design by Liz Allen

Awards[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Beckett, Wendy. Michael Gow's Away (Glebe: Pascal Press, 1993)
  • Bramwell, Murray. 'Dreamtime', Adelaide Review, No.46 January 1988 : pp. 21–22
  • Gay, Penny. 'Michael Gow's Away: the Shakespeare connection', Reconnoitres: Essays in Australian Literature in Honour of G.A. Wilkes 1992 pp. 204–213,
  • Gow, Michael (1986). Away. Sydney: Currency Press. ISBN 978-0-86819-211-6. 
  • Hough, David. 'Away off the Mark', The Bulletin 1992, Vol.114 No.5838, 22 September. pp. 82–83
  • Mitchell, Heather. Brodies notes on Michael Gow's Away (Sydney: Pan, 1988)
  • Payne, Pamela. 'Gow goes for less sentimentality, more power', Sydney Morning Herald 12 June 1992 : p16
  • Radic, Leonard. The state of play: revolution in the Australian theatre since the 1960s, (Ringwood: Penguin, 1991)
  • Webby, Elizabeth. 'Away', Modern Australian Plays 1990 pp. 54–64
  • Beverly Baptist College 2012 "modern Australian plays 2012"

References[edit]