Review of Rising Water on Crikey

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.

The other home

Back in Melbourne, and the rain is hissing on the road outside the open window.

In Carlton tonight half of Lygon Street was closed, ready for tomorrow’s festival. A pizza oven was parked where our bus stop should be. So we walked along Elgin Street between the showers of rain, the air still warm and smelling of bitumen. We got a bus and changed to a tram at the junction.

At home when it rains on the bitumen in summer, the air smells of eucalypt and is washed clean of the sea. But it only rained once that I can remember, all summer at home. It rained just after I left the water one evening, so I missed out on swimming in the rain.

Back in Melbourne, the other home. The sea is far away, but not too far. On Monday a different life begins, a new routine. It is as though the time on the other side of the country exists in a bubble, a time capsule. Melbourne seems unchanged. It is as though I have not been gone at all.

Coming back here makes me glad, because it is good to come back to a place that once was strange and that now is littered with a history of my own. We have a past together, this city and I. We have had this past for a long time, but it takes a year and a half here and a few months away to realise it.

Sometime soon it will be time to live in another city or another place, and then I must remember: after a while, when you have lived there long enough to have a routine and to know some of the place intimately, go away for some time and then return, just to see how it feels to come back.

On coming home

To call it ‘home’ in the first place is supposedly definitive. But it is a word that I interchange, and I am not sure that it is as important as it could be.

I have been gone for fourteen months; it was my third extended absence, and also my longest. I am no returning expat or long-lost child who has been gone for years and years; I am just part of the generation that picks up stumps between 18 and 25 and takes off for a while. Most of us come back, periodically, to confront or remember or re-experience the home that we left.

I feel childlike here, yet I also feel old. I have seen this place across so many years.

There is a sense of belonging, but also a feeling that those with whom I belong are nonetheless moving on without me.

I feel at ease, here in familiar surrounds where the summer sun has the same intensity that I remember. It is a town known for taking it easy, and it’s smoothing me over too, calming me down, bringing me back into its rhythms.

Yet there is the itch of temporariness, the knowledge of another imminent departure. I am constantly wondering if this really is home, to the exclusion of all other places.

This time, I also wonder if I have pushed it too far – if I have been gone too long, so that this place can never be what it once was.