KEEPING it simple is the key to HotHouse Theatre’s current show They Saw A Thylacine.
Simple set and lighting, minimal sound - two women on stage.
But, wow, what a story.
Sarah Hamiltion (playing fictional tracker Beattie McCullough) and Justine Campbell (as Alison Reid, the daughter of Baumauris Zoo curator Arthur Reid) captivate the audience with their personal accounts of the Tasmanian tiger.
The audience soon warms to They Saw A Thylacine as the metaphoric campfire smoke lifts and the story gains real purpose.
Before long you’re in, leaning forward as if to hear the story better.
It is a tragic story that grows long after the 60-minute tale is told.
Both actors deliver with passion and a genuine sense of purpose.
Hamilton’s language was poetry in motion.
She paints wonderful imagery of the rugged and brutal Tasmanian wilderness as she tracks a female thylacine, and of her fight for respect among rival hunters and trappers who are also after the same prized animal.
In contrast, Alison Reid’s tale is full of anguish and anger.
Campbell is equally compelling as Reid – caught in a male-dominated world where condescending arrogance and ignorance condemns the world’s last captive thylacine to a despicable death.
Campbell’s character gives the play a time frame, based in 1930s Hobart, and gives it a good factual base. But it is not a period drama.
The set, costumes and occasional profanity suggest it could be set at any time (George Thorogood’s Bad To The Bone ringtone on some unlucky punter’s phone during the opening night performance no doubt helped place it in modern times).
Whatever the era, there are hundreds of animals like the Thylacine who’s key to survival rests in the hands, hearts and minds of humans.
Will we ever listen to the likes of Alison Reid and use the keys?