The Plays We Perform Often Display a Frightening View of Who We Are. How Are Playwrights Able to Do This in Ruby Moon and Stolen?

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The plays we perform often display a frightening view of who we are. How are playwrights able to do this in Ruby Moon and Stolen?

The frightening view of who we are is explored by Matt Cameron’s Ruby Moon and Jane Harrison’s Stolen, where the contemporary Australian theatrical practice is used to explore dark issues. The play Ruby Moon is a response to the current epidemic within Australian society; the fear of losing a child, and is concerned with life in suburbia, and Stolen by Jane Harrison is concerned with Indigenous experience in Australia and the effects of the implementation of the policy of taking children from their families and how, despite all that has been done to them, they have survived. By using innovative approaches in structure and different dramatic forms and conventions such as characterisation, multi-role playing and symbolism to convey their ideas, has allowed these playwrights to display a frightening view of who we are.

Ruby Moon by Matt Cameron is about a little girl who sets off to visit her grandmother, just like a fairytale, but never arrives. It is the story of Little Red Riding Hood retold, exposing what people do when they suffer an enormous loss, like the loss of a child. It is both placeless and timeless, a theatrical device used in order for an audience to realize its universality. It travels deep into the fears of our time by illustrating issues like child abduction and pedophilia which arouse such potent emotions in families and communities. The play is able to re-enact the dire “pervasive fear and mistrust that exists...where Australia is at the moment” through the employment of the gothic and absurd through a fairy tale like structure, characterisation, black humour, multi-role playing, props and symbolism, and lighting.

Ruby Moon displays a frightening view of who we are through the employment of presentational theatre acting where Cameron is able to then within his theatre, give emotion to the issue that we detachedly interact with every day, and allow us to see the grief, anger and psychotic paranoia behind these stories, which are emphasized in his other styles used. The style which Cameron employs, that is Gothicism and Absurdism, presents the bizarre and macabre culture of Australian society which is fixated upon fairy tales gone wrong, “it begins with a fairy tale” and the paranoia and obsession that is a repercussion of this. This is then shown through the characterization of Ray and Sylvie, who voice their mistrust through their absurdist cyclical questioning and through their guilt, highlight the unforgiving and anonymous Australian landscape; where both Ray and Sylvie come to question those living closest to them, as well as one another. Thus through these styles, Cameron is able to communicate the nightmarish logic in the situation, where we begin to question with the characters; who and what is real in this world, causing a sense of paranoia amongst us.

The play incorporates black humour through actors playing multiple roles, all which seem to be strange, changing the perception of the audience through the way the story is told. The fact that everyone appears to be guilty and most obviously through the unusual things that continue to happen throughout the play, contribute to the fear created engaging the audience as a reflection. Through the theatrical conceit of only two actors playing such a range of characters, one begins to question if all are completely separate. Major characters of Ray and Sylvie are both weakened by the loss of their child, and both are witnesses to the effect of grief in their lives, Ray’s integrity is mistrusted by the audience as we witness the progression of the play, and Sylvie becomes increasingly unstable and psychotic as her grief continues in a cyclical pattern. The minor characters throughout the play, Veronica Vale, Dulcie Doily, Sid Craven etc, all follow the archetype method of Cameron is their creation. For example, Sid...
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