on now, Review

REVIEW: Sydney II: Lost and Found | Bringing stories of hope and bravery lovingly to the surface

Review | Laura Money

In the midst of war, two souls find each other and fall in love. In the midst of devastation and destruction young boys find hope with their heroes. In the midst of death there is life.

This is the full story of the HMAS Sydney – its proud crew, its valiant heroics, its sad fate, and its eventual rediscovery. Told in a unique format – a clever mix of theatrical and filmic devices, with a sweeping score and brilliantly heartfelt performances – Sydney II: Lost and Found brings clarity to the fate of the Sydney and weaves in a beautiful personal story guaranteed to pull at the heartstrings. Lost and Found is Theatre 180‘s second foray into a mixed media play. Following the success of A Fortunate Life the young company embarked on yet another central WA story in the search for the Sydney. Both works capture the imagination and the spirit of the WA population and remind us that there are important stories to be explored.

Lost and Found adopts the same format as its predecessor – a unique blend of live theatre and a cinematic experience, complete with soundtrack, credits a la film mode, and tangible performances. The backdrop is the cinema screen but a dynamic and lively one where backgrounds move, performers interact with each other on both stage and screen, and real footage of the discovery of the wreckage is shown. The result is a breathtaking experience that engages the senses and transports the audience to wherever they need to be – historical Perth, the deck of the Sydney, even a farm in Manjimup! It’s immersive theatre at its finest and we are happy to be ‘on board.’

There are two stories interwoven at play here – a traditional tale of love and loss with more questions than answers and the search for the actual wreckage. It’s part traditional love story, part TED talk as Allan and Jessie Rowe’s stories interact with a scientific adventure. Each cast member adopts several roles in bringing the Sydney’s story to light – Morgan Dukes shines as the effervescent Jessie – newlywed and uplifting supporter of her husband Alan (Tom O’Sullivan) who also has an optimistic outlook on life. Their story is shared with warmth and heart by writer Jenny Davis – she has the incomparable ability to create intimate personal stories and render them wholly ours. She shares the Alan’s love of the sea and navy through O’Sullivan’s enthusiastic dialogue and delivery. Jessie’s trepidation is ultimately quelled by her sense of hope and Davis weaves futures and pasts in an intricate play of language that is fiercely intelligent.

Directed by Stuart Halusz the work uses every single part of its stage both on screen and off! The actors Dukes, O’Sullivan and Myles Pollard flit between characters with deft costume changes moving seamlessly through eras, nations, and genders. Aided by a stellar performance by all three actors each character is brought to life with incredible talent – a change of facial features, a cheeky jacket, or even a bearing changes them from able seamen to school boys to German officers and each rendition is utterly believable. Alongside the Rowe’s story are other sailors and civilians that highlight the impact Sydney had on the popular imagination. It is this impact that spurred on the second part of this tale – the search for the wreckage and a final answer to what happened. The actors turn into presenters as they explain everything about the wreck from the history to the science and the sheer magnitude of the operations. They also talk crowdfunding in a highly entertaining segment. Accompanying the search the audience is stunned into silence, watching the sonar footage with bated breath as the wreckage is illuminated. It’s a thrilling moment that captures the feelings of the ship wreck hunters themselves.

Sydney II: Lost and Found is a sweeping romance between the people of Australia and the ship that captured everyone’s heart. Combining haunting imagery of the wreck and the exhilarating thrill of live performance this is an experience not to be missed.

Sydney II: Lost and Found is on at various cinemas in both regional and metro areas for the end of the year. Click HERE to find out more information and to purchase tickets.

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