‘Julia’ is an uncomfortable reminder of poisonous instances

Justine Clarke as Julia. Photograph: Rene Vaile and Samuel Cooper.

Theatre / “Julia”, Sydney Theatre Firm. At The Playhouse, till March 25. Reviewed by SIMONE PENKETHMAN

ONCE upon a time in Canberra, our Queen came over and was greeted by a lady Governor-Normal, Prime Minister and Chief Minister. Now, that looks like a glitch in historical past.

The story of our first and solely feminine prime minister, Julia Gillard, serves as a cautionary story to any girl who may dare to fly too near the solar.

However rising from the ashes, not lengthy after the tenth anniversary of her well-known misogyny speech, “Julia” provides us an opportunity to think about the inside workings of a lady whose calm pragmatism and skill to barter and compromise characterised her time as chief of our nation.

There are two ladies on stage: blonde Justine Clarke because the redheaded Julia, and dark-haired Jessica Bentley, as Younger Girl, a silent, movement-based character. It appears becoming for Younger Girl to be occupying a few of this house as a result of Julia’s story resonates with a brand new technology, lots of whom flood TikTok with their very own lip-synced performances of her well-known speech.

Renee Mulder’s set design makes nice use of mirrors, lighting, and projections to evoke each the political stage on which Julia carried out and playwright, Joanna Murray-Smith’s, imagined glimpses into Julia’s ideas and reminiscences.

Over the course of practically 90 minutes, Justine Clarke evolves from a narrator, retelling the story in third particular person, to a whole and triumphant embodiment of the one second when Julia Gillard advised the chief of the opposition, the nation, and the entire world how she actually felt.

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It’s nice writing, with loads of laugh-out-loud and ah-ha moments. However, like watching the “The Last Quarter”, a film about former footballer and Australian of the Yr, Adam Goodes, this play can be an uncomfortable reminder of a lot poisonous commentary that bubbled round Julia’s time period in workplace.

Director Sarah Goodes remarks in her program notes that, “Justine and I spoke rather a lot about how, as ladies of a sure age, we felt barely responsible for not having spoken up extra when Julia was being handled as she was throughout her time as PM.”

Because the packed Playhouse theatre rose for the world-premiere efficiency to a standing ovation, it felt like catharsis, a shaking off of disgrace and permission to be proud.

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Ian Meikle, editor