Above – Luke Carroll. Photo – Brett Boardman

The history of colonisation across the world has left many people of many lands and cultures displaced and desperate for a sense of belonging. Perhaps none feel this more than our own first Nations peoples.   

This is a powerful play, unravelling some of the intense emotions and unresolved conundrums in the search for identity. One protagonist feels very threatened by another who he sees as a “claimer” of aboriginality who wants to “steal our land”, who, in turn, feels very linked personally with the people and very much wants to be accepted and to find proof of the legitimacy of her claim. Another straddles both positions and wants to mediate a compromise, while the fourth feels torn by the conflicting positions, while remaining grounded and articulating the issues facing them all.

 In the process, this fine troupe of four actors shows intense understanding of the issues, written from a depth of experience by Nathan Maynard. They are directed by Isaac Drandic from an equivalent level of devotion and commitment. This understanding, devotion and commitment powers the great effectiveness of these fine actors in presenting us, through this important piece of theatre, with a great deal to consider as a nation attempting to build a cohesive, respectful, diverse community in this evolving multi-cultural society that inhabits this wonderful continent.

Luke Carroll is consistently credible as Boyd, devoted to his wife, his people, and his cause, and tortured in his commitment, demonstrating masterful control of some intensely emotional and long soliloquies. Sandy Greenwood matches him beautifully as his wife, Nala, in her groundedness and level-headed strength. Ari Maza Long as Daniel provides some comic relief as well as balance in the emotional turmoil, while Alex Malone is equally effective as Gracie, the PhD student who really wants to belong.

The set by Jacob Nash is a perfect piece of wide open country from the start, and includes many props which are increasingly utilised as the play develops. The set is ably partnered with Chloe Ogilvie’s lighting design which includes pertinent stars as well as dramatic climactic effects. Sound design by David Bergman, with music by Brendon Boney provide unobtrusive but supportive sustenance throughout.

If I were to find any complaint it would be that some of the best comedic lines came from the “kitchen” corner of the set, far on stage right, so that the audience on that side laughed, and the other half missed them. This was not the fault of the actors or their delivery, but rather the acoustics of the theatre, which was otherwise completely suited to this production.

This is a play that needs to be seen., and thought about. Go, and do both!

Event details

State Theatre Company SA presents
by Nathan Maynard

Director Isaac Drandic

Venue: Odeon Theatere | Queen Street Norwood SA
Dates: 16 June – 1 July 2023
Bookings: statetheatrecompany.com.au

At What Cost? is a Belvoir St production presented by State Theatre Company South Australia.

Most read Adelaide reviews

More from this author