Yesterday my review of Tim Winton’s play, Rising Water, went up on Crikey’s theatre blog, Curtain Call. It’s the first review that I’ve pitched anywhere apart from upstart and I have lots of respect for Crikey, so I was delighted!
The review is here if you’d like to read it.
The play received a bit of flak in a review in The Age last week; in contrast, the review on PerthNow of the WA showing was largely positive. One of my friends suggested that, as a Western Australian myself, it was compulsory that I like Winton’s writing (and the play is very Winton)… I reckon I could mount an essay-length argument against that statement, but perhaps my sandgroper upbringing gives me an emotional attachment to Winton’s WA-located writing. Certainly Dirt Music, Breath and the Lockie Leonard series struck me for their powerful evocation of place.
As a writer, I am drawn to place; so perhaps it is to be expected that as a reader, I am drawn to writing which captures place as powerfully as Winton always does. Of course, the other element present in so much of Winton’s writing is an attachment to the ocean, and this invariably draws me in.
Rising Water is showing at the Playhouse, Melbourne, until September 10. Tickets available here… and yes, I would whole-heartedly recommend it.
5 thoughts on “Review of Rising Water on Crikey”
It’s because I’m a West Australian that I hate Winton’s work. I went to the world premiere in Perth, and the points I made in my review for The Worst of Perth
[link] were the same made by most other later reviewers ie great set, reasonable acting, ordinary play.
I just can’t see how all the clumsy Perth references and (for god’s sake) WA Inc. references would mean anything to audiences outside Perth.
Winton needs to get out of his WA cliche comfort zone, whether for stage screen or book.
Thanks for the comment. Being from WA isn’t a reason to hate OR like things that come out of WA (is there some kind of cultural cringe there?), and I don’t think Winton’s books are WA-cliche at all. Yes, there are common elements, common images and common themes across his work – but that’s because writing about WA is Winton’s speciality, and personally I think each of his works have been unique. Sometimes Rising Water went a little far in terms of its WA-specific references (further than what his fiction does) but I think it gets away with it because it’s theatre and because of the humour. I found it funny and judging by the laughter so did the rest of the audience in the Playhouse.
Not cultural cringe. What I mean is that if you’re not from here, it’s easier to miss just how groanworthy his stuff is, particularly Cloudstreet, which was pure WA cheese. If Cloudstreet was written about Sydney it would have been set in a house in the shadows of the harbour bridge being built. You just know it. And the play is the same. He’s lucky the set was there to save his arse, as the writing was on the whole, pretty poor. He needs to write something that doesn’t have the Fremantle Doctor in it for a change. Hf he can.
I saw the play on Wednesday night. I’m not from WA but love all Winton’s books and have seen the dramatisation of Cloudstreet both on stage and the recent TV version. However I don’t think he cuts the mustard with Rising Water. I really wanted to like it but the set was the only thing I could praise. I thought the dialogue was uninspiring and the story failed to do something that that every other Winton work has done for me – engage me emotionally!
I missed the play here in Perth because I was overseas its whole season, mostly on the ocean, too. But, Winton also lives in Fremantle and I bumped into him in the vegie shop a couple of weeks ago. We talked about the play and the setting, which is the boat harbours I know well. Suzi also knows the set and maybe it does make a difference to how the play is ‘read’ and ‘felt’. It will come out in a print form next year (I think it is next year). Tim Winton had been sent the Crikey review but didn’t comment on it; probably doesn’t read reviews.