Now playing at Hayes Theatre Company, The Lucky Country may be the most important Australian musical ever written.
I know it’s a huge claim, but when you look at the types of theatre written in this country in the last 50 years, they’re all very one-dimensional regarding what it means to be Australian. You have the queer experience in Priscilla, the indigenous perspective in Bran Nue Dae, and the middle-class bogan perspective in Muriel’s Wedding, but The Lucky Country tells everyone’s story.
Like Jason Robert Brown’s Songs For a New World, Vidya Makan has used a series of Australian stories, each unique in their experience, with one thing tying them all together… the Australian spirit. In this one-act musical, there are 12 snapshots into the Aussie way of life; wishing to be on a nude beach in Byron Bay, impersonating another culture, our love of beer and footy, and celebrating everything that can kill you in this beautiful country.
There is a Play School-esque feeling to the storytelling in this show, which gives it an endearing quality. Sonya Suares’s larger-than-life direction perfectly matches Emily Collett’s simple set and costume design. The projections by Justin Harrison perfectly balance setting the scene and not being cliched.
The Hayes Theatre is known for launching the career of many performers, but this show was different. The five performers I saw all have very well-established careers. Some have had national tours (Vidya Makan in SIX) and featured in significant events like World Pride (I see you, Milo Hartill). I believe it was the power and the message of this musical that brought them all together.
I hesitate to highlight any of the performers because I believe that by them telling these multicultural stories, they resonated a realism from each person on stage. It wasn’t just a character they were playing, they were portraying their own experiences or the experiences of their community. They believed, and they wanted to tell this story.
You will experience a whole range of emotions in seeing the show, from the anger and sadness of what our country has done to the indigenous stories to the joy and hilarity of Australia actively celebrating the dangerous nature of our country.
Undoubtedly, the Hayes Theatre purposely scheduled this musical to coincide with Reconciliation Week and deep in the throws of the Voice to Parliament debate. I encourage anyone, Koma theatre lover or otherwise, to go and see this profound commentary on the many lives of Australia.
– The other Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is an international performer and has established himself as a trusted theatre specialist on the Sydney Arts Scene. While he understands the technical side of theatre, Dan writes for the everyday theatregoer (unlike some of those more prominent publications). When not in the audience, he loves to travel the world trying new gin. Follow him on all the socials @talldancraig
The Lucky Country runs for 65 mins (no interval) and plays at Hayes Theatre through 25 June 2023. Tickets are available through the Hayes Theatre Company Box Office.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of Michelle Guthrie Presents.
Image credit: Philip Erbacher.