State Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre in association with Adelaide Festival Centre
By Sue Smith
A decorated war correspondent and a talented young journalist meet, fall in love and set off on a global adventure, leaving scandal behind them in post-World War II Australia.
It’s 1956 and Australia’s famous literary couple, George Johnston and Charmian Clift have moved to the Greek island of Hydra to focus their lives fully on their writing. Charmian, a burgeoning writing talent, creatively dominated by the tuberculosis ridden George, throws herself into this new community. Meanwhile, as George determinedly crafts what would become his Miles Franklin Award-winning masterpiece, My Brother Jack, their marriage becomes increasingly strained and they discover that living in paradise has a price.
State Theatre Company favourite Sue Smith (Kryptonite, Machu Picchu, Brides of Christ) has crafted a sweeping tale told from the perspective of George and Charmian’s eldest son Martin, chronicling George Johnston and Charmian Clift’s time as the figureheads of Hydra’s bohemian expat community. Starring Nathan O’Keefe (Macbeth) as Martin and Anna McGahan (from TV’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, Dr Blake Mysteries and Underbelly) as Charmian, Hydra brings a soaring emotional tale of two extraordinary literary lives to the stage.
Hydra contains coarse language, adult themes (references to suicide), sexual references and the use of e-cigarettes.
Duration: Approximately 100 minutes (no interval)
Hydra has recently been published by NewSouth Books. Learn more here
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“I think the reason that people respond to this story is that it’s this incredibly intense and passionate love affair inspired by a vision of freedom coming unstuck on the rocks… and the degree they, particularly Charmian, were in love with the Icarus myth, which is exactly what they lived. They flew too close to the sun and crashed.”
We chat to writer Sue Smith about why she chose to bring this Australian epic to the stage.
Read the full interview here
“I guess the myth, though, continues on in Australian literary culture in the sense of this very romantic idea of writers going off somewhere to write and how rare that is. I guess the story continues to have cultural currency because of that romance but it also speaks to issues that continue that interest us today such as what it’s like to work trans-nationally, what it means to write, what it means to dedicate a life to a vocation that is not necessarily prized by the wider culture…”
Tanya Dalziell and Paul Genoni wrote Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955 – 1964. We chat to them about the fascinating history of the island.
Read the full interview here.