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Review: Australian play double bill of Holiday and The Eisteddfod at the Bussey Building

L-R Paul Woodson and Andrew Buckley in Raimondo Cortese's Holiday

Haven't seen many Australian plays but those I have seen have all been slightly surreal and this double bill is no different.

Holiday by Raimondo Cortese has two men in speedo's sat beside a children's paddling pool chewing the fat and occasionally breaking into baroque love songs. (I admit I did have to do a bit of internet research because I hadn't a clue what they were singing.)

The conversation topics or remarks they make to each other are random in the way a casual and relaxed conversation might go. Sometimes philosophical, sometimes banal and quite ordinary. It is difficult to make any sense or purpose to it other than to demonstrate both how ridiculous and interesting man can be.

Nonetheless it is a highly amusing piece. With strong Australian accents and a mastery of comic timing actors Paul Woodson and Andrew Buckley can make the most anodyne observation funny. Not being able to identify the songs or the lyrics, the musical interludes added little for me other than demonstrating good singing voices but the laughs more than made up for it.

The second piece, The Eisteddfod by Lally Katz tells the story of agoraphobic brother and sister Abalone (Paul Woodson) and Gerture (Louise Collins) who spend their days living in a fantasy world of their own making which includes teaching german, a relationship breaking down and rehearsing Macbeth for the Eisteddfod which has, as a prize, a one way ticket to Moscow.

Brother and sister role play, sometimes as lovers, sometimes as their parents sometime unrelated characters and it is obvious that much of it familiar and has been played out time and time again. At one point Gerture demands a 'scene' that will comfort her.

Paul Woodson in Lally Katz's The Eisteddfod

Having seen Nick Payne's Incognito recently which is all about the brain and sense of self, I couldn't help thinking about how The Eisteddfod also demonstrated the fragility of the mind. Abalone and Gerture are described as being in their late teens and yet there is much that is child like in their actions while dialogue within their role playing is often very grown up and sometimes explicit.

There are hints of child abuse and that their dead parents had an unhappy marriage because of infidelity. It gives the humour - and this is often funny - a distinctly black edge. Amid the silliness there is a sense of yearning and loss as if the siblings are clinging on to the familiar and routine of times gone by even if they weren't always good times.

An interesting and amusing piece, again very well performed.

Holiday and The Eisteddfod run as a double bill (roughly an hour each with 20 minutes interval) at the Bussey Building in Peckham until June 4.


Got what I think is a lovely connection. Andrew Buckley was in a fab indie film called Skeletons which Tuppence Middleton also appeared in and she was in the Years and Years video for their single Real with Mr W. If you haven't seen it, you should for the dancing alone.