“Kelly” at The Playhouse made for an interesting after party play, after the party in the Playhouse foyer that celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Canberra Theatre Centre. A celebratory cake with simple but golden decoration befitting this major milestone brought together lots of the theatre staff from the good old days with many a tale to tell. Not the least of which was Alex Sciberras who was there from the beginning and still pops back for opening nights with his lovely wife Agnes.
Then at the after party, after the play, being inveigled into a discussion about the bushranger connections of Genevieve Jacobs’ family and some tall tales, mostly true, from Jack Waterford was a giant learning curve. Jack reckons the infamous Captain Thunderbolt with his ‘wife’ Mary Ann Bugg ended up in Jack’s territory of Goodooga. Sorry Jack, not true, nor the tale of his ‘wife’ aiding his escape from Cockatoo Island. A Waterford story does that to me, and in the chase and search for the truth I found the gay bushranger Captain Moonlite and that led back to Ned. Yes the Kelly we know most about but are never quite sure of the truth of the story is how this play by Matthew Ryan can extrapolate the idea that perhaps Ned’s brother Dan, the one who purportedly was burned in the fire at the siege of Glenrowan had escaped, and was now on the eve of Ned’s hanging disguised as a priest able to get in to Ned’s cell for a bit of a good old Kelly family biffo, soul searching and hope for forgiveness. Ned had always apparently resented getting Dan out of situations and now the ghost of his past wants redemption.
A fascinating hypothesis, fabulous acting and another myth to add to the Kelly story. And fine face fuzz for Steven Rooke in the Ned role. Which is symptomatic of a resurgence in beard growing that’s hard to fathom and this hirsute phase, or correctly pogonotrophy, is according to the ancient Greeks evidence of masculinity and virility. So we had a beard bonding with Steven Rooke and a winner in the King O’Malley’s beard competition, Brendan O’Brien. One of the beards was soft and shiny because he uses Aesop products, and the other was the winner. So what about an Aesop quote to sum up this “Kelly experience”; “a false tale often betrays itself “ perhaps, particularly as “Kelly” will finish this Queensland Theatre Company’s tour in Ipswich where there’s a grave for a Dan Kelly.