‘The Way Out’ – a dystopian Aussie sci-fi western at Red Stitch

Civil war has torn Australia apart. Chemical weapons have left a blighted landscape, plants can’t grow in the poisoned soil, and no one should be outside without a mask to filter toxins. It’s been only 14 years since the ‘Treaty of Melbourne’ and the pacification, but quarantine camps, public executions and Nestle Krill Flakes meals are the new norm. The Way Out is a dystopian sci-fi play set in dusty dingy pub in rural Victoria, home to a handful of characters who deal with the pretty bleak circumstances in their own way.

Stewart and Helen are a father/daughter duo in charge of the pub, and business isn’t good. More concerning is that a new ARC (a fascist totalitarian entity that runs this part of Victoria) inspector is arriving, always a risk that he might catch onto the not entirely legal business they are running. A good part of the 70min play is world-building. The many acronyms and references are unexplained at start, but quickly enough is delivered so we can have a reasonable idea of how all of it came to pass.

The crew at Red Stitch Theatre did a standout out job in set and sound design, an attention to detail and quality of props far superior than what you’d expect from independent theatre, and effectively draw us into the setting.

Dystopian science fiction in theatre isn’t something you come across that often, and it certainly should draw in a crowd that appreciates the genre and theatre as a medium. For the most part, the action on stage is focused on conveying a microcosm of a group of people and how they fit into this world that is eerily familiar but so radically different to our present-day Australia.  First time playwright Josephine Collins still manages to fit in a few twists and turns to tie the politics of her fictional setting to the actions of the characters, and left us with a satisfying ending.

– Christian
Christian G. is an international man of mystery; lover of books, cats and the performing arts; moonlighting as a finance professional by day.

The Way Out  runs 22 August – 24 September at the Red Stitch Actors Theatre, St Kilda.  Buy tickets online.  The venue is accessible. 

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of TS Publicity.
Image credit: Teresa Noble Photography.