Left – Glenn Hazeldine and Phillip Hinton. Cover – Glenn Hazeldine, Jeanette Cronin and Phillip Hinton. Photos – Lisa Tomasetti
Did the dingo do it? The answer is…not what matters. Be part of Australian history at masterpiece reality drama Letters to Lindy. Every minute is suspenseful – even though most of us know the story. To see it, hear it – even feel it – is more powerful than any tabloid article or TV shock-doc. This is a quality production in all elements.
Letters to Lindy is a biographical drama with lighter moments, and even a dash of musical flair. Among the cast are the letters themselves: some kooky, some caring – all the voices from Australia and the world yelling, comforting, or cheering the central real-life character Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton.
We begin with the contemporary Lindy whose memories of the past intrude on her daily life. Then go back to Ayers Rock/Uluru for various witness accounts of what happened – or didn’t. Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton’s life was ordinary until that fateful evening when her daughter Azaria disappeared – presumed dead. One of Australia’s most culturally significant stories of the 20th century belongs to everyone: Lindy’s monologues are interspersed with letter-writer snippets from creepy crazies and nasty mudslingers through to caring supporters.
The quality of Letters to Lindy stems from the exquisitely touching script by accomplished playwright Alana Valentine. Detail upon detail is woven into a finely stitched masterpiece. The school curriculum should include this play instead of similar parables as The Crucible. In this age of online trolls and exploitative media, how better to learn the consequences of gossip and conjecture than by events that could happen to anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Bringing us into Lindy’s life is an A-grade cast of four performers. Jeanette Cronin is Lindy with total believability across the decades. The accent, the mannerisms, the humour: tick, tick, tick. From everyday pastor’s wife to international martyr or murderer – Cronin sways between turmoil and serenity with skill.
Director Darren Yap brings together all the talent of versatile acting to intensify the drama. The juxtaposing opinions of the story play out between unnamed character discussions: everyday people both then and now. Glenn Hazeldine tugs at the heartstrings as a youngster as much as he accomplishes fanning the flame of injustice as a hateful redneck. Phillip Hinton expertly exercises his accent range and vocal presence across many identities. Jane Phegan focuses her boundless energy into severe as well as cheerfully naive roles.
James Browne’s set design and small touches guide the audience into the historical context and across the nation: from the contemporary homewares catalogue-like home, to 1980s gaol cell, to present-day archive.
Letters to Lindy is more than one woman’s story. Be moved by the good and bad of humanity in the context of Australia’s identity.
Merrigong Theatre Company presents
Letters to Lindy
by Alana Valentine
Director Darren Yap
Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre | Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra
Dates: 11 – 13 August 2016
Tickets: $55 – $35