Tuesday, December 18, 2012
POSTS IN PADDOCK THUMBS DOWN
It has taken me just over a year to be able to write a review of the theatre performance and installation, Posts in the Paddock, that was staged for the first time in Sydney last November.
The production elements – sounds, sights, sets and symbols – were very sophisticated and stimulated all the senses, sometimes all at once.
But because there was so much going on production-wise, it was difficult to focus on the plot, the elements of the story.
The problem with this play as I see it is that it is not honest.
It claims to be about the family of one of the performers in the play, Clare Britton, who is an indirect descendant of the O’Brien family, two of whose members were murdered by the Governor brothers.
The heavily pregnant Elizabeth O’Brien and her 15-month-old toddler son, James, were slaughtered in their home while husband and father, Mick O’Brien, the real target of Jimmy’s revenge, was out collecting firewood.
But this story, the O’Brien story, was never the focus of the play.
Instead my ancestors, Sarah and John Mawbey, were depicted as the villains, and the posts meant to be fence posts on the O’Brien property, conveniently became those Jimmy and Joe were constructing on the Mawbey selection at Breelong.
This play twists the truth, distorts the real story, and implicates my family as exponents of an evil empire spawned by colonial invasion and missionary zeal.
The story lacked basic integrity in that it was not what it was supposed to be about.
Instead it victimised and vilified the Mawbey family, still traumatised by Jimmy Governor’s brutality towards them more than 100 years ago.
We have been used for political purposes, and I object to that.