Arts and Culture

Adelaide Fringe Review: Of Auburn

Posted on: Fri 25 Feb 2022

How did the world descend to this depravity – did we not learn last time?”

Lest we forget is real.

Of Auburn is the life of women in World War One. It captures songs, their letters, diaries and untold stories of the so-called Great War. A war fuelled by ‘blind patriotism’, its only great aspect, the constant boom of the great guns that maimed and killed.  A place where ‘each night is a nightmare’.  A world where one Field Hospital Matron could ‘only wish that all I know be killed outright’, rather than suffer the agony of endless excruciating injury.

Our focus is on the nurses, but wonderful, delicate songs, open us to the despair of mothers, children and wives at home, who lose so much, and are left ‘buried alive inside their pain’.

We see it all because we are in magic space –along with the music, immersive AV activates photos and watercolours of the time. We are surrounded with images of the young, brave nurses as they journey across the sea. And, we hear their stories though the narration of WWI nurse Madge Yeatman (Clare Mansfield), from Auburn.

 We hear of life before the war, a ‘mellow life in a country of golden stone’. And we hear too of young women who wanted more from life than ‘tea parties and embroidery’. Women who wanted to make choices for self, and so would follow the stern pathway to become nurses, first here – and then in the war zones.  

We hear it too, from the poetry of CJ Dennis (Nic Conway), himself a one-time Auburn lad. His life becomes real, as do his characters, Ginger Mick, Limpy Bill, Rose and Doreen as they offer a wry and wistful commentary on the realities and sheer follies of war.

It is great theatre.

Review: Christina Hagger

Image: supplied Media Release Adelaide Fringe

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