Golden Soil

 “Wars are popular, contractors make money”. Golden Soil is about the Wheat Board scandal with Iraq and the story of the kickbacks.

 Double Dare ProductionsParade Space, Parade Theatres Wednesday, 4 August, 2010 (Opening Night)
“Wars are popular, contractors make money”. Golden Soil is about the Wheat Board scandal with Iraq and the story of the kickbacks. As a theatrical piece it does not meld well. It attempts to incorporate the big picture and then bring it down to a personal level by detailing the story of a farming family involved in all aspects of the conflict and corruption.
Unfortunately there was a great deal of over-detailed exposition in the first segments of the play incorporating news bulletins and the Bruce Petty cartoons. The cartoons were very visually involved and displayed via overhead projector. The playwright Carol Dance gave us too much of what felt like political diatribe in the setting of the time and events, including photo masks of various politicians in front of the actors faces.
The story then shifted to the family, with the father David (Peter McCallum) on the wheat board. McCallum’s performance lacked some emotional depth, although he expostulated well in justification of his part in the corruption, really not understanding the objections of his son, father or wife. Susan (Karen Cobban) David’s wife somehow did not convince as an emergency room doctor. She played the part with passion but the underlying intelligence and vigor expected in a woman who ventures to Iraq is missing. Well, cliché though it may seem, the son went to war in Iraq and then became a mercenary with Blackwater and was killed. His mother volunteered as a doctor there to find out how and why he died and eventually heard Harry had a noble death, defending a child.
Pop (Tim Hunter) and Harry (Christopher Darling) share a close relationship and a fish eyed talisman. This symbolism does not hold the weight it should within the play and therefore suffers from lack of emotional impact at the end. Hunter, and Darling gave solid performances , although director Alana Simpson chose to have little interpersonal interaction between characters onstage, instead making them use a lot of direct speech. This may have contributed to the lack of involvement the audience felt with the family.
The stand out performance of the night came from Neveen Hanna ( who also doubled as the newsreader) as Farrah, an Iraqi woman and doctor, when the real impact of the war and the funds given to the dictator are given a human face. Paul Pavlarkis who also took several parts did a creditable job as Merdad, the newsreader and Marlowe.
It states in the program that the names were changed but everything else really happened. Perhaps a little more theatrical licence may have rounded this production into a cohesive piece of theatre.
Until 14 August 2010

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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