FRINGEFeed Woodside

A National Park

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“People don’t forget, they just ignore.”

Let’s begin in our barren wasteland. Perth, 2030. The animals and birds have left, the vegetation has shrivelled, the creeks have dried up and the land suffers.

A National Park follows Akasha, a quick-witted Noongar woman working as a park ranger in the Western Australian bushland. She’s accompanied by Casey, a spiritual, guitar-playing environmentalist with a silver tongue and Irish roots.

Together they explore the once beautiful park and try to reach the one place that’s been left untouched by fracking before it’s too late.

Jessie Ward as Akasha is a joy to watch, combining humour, intellect and strength to create a surreally concrete person.

One often forgets while watching her perform that she is, in fact, performing. Ward’s portrayal is exceptional and a real asset to the production.

A National Park is the debut for Black Sapphire Productions and the latest work from writer Andrea Fernandez. Fernandez, like Akasha, navigates through her narrative’s intricate ecosystem, detailing cultural conflict and environmental atrocities under the guise of a comedic adventure.

When writing dialogue, Fernandez seems to be tossing up between realistic and casual, and mechanical and borderline-preachy.

When the characters are getting to know each other, the conversation flows naturally, however when discussing racial, cultural or environmental issues, their delivery comes off as a little too ‘on the nose’.

A National Park is booked as a love story and although the chemistry between the characters is evident, I wasn’t entirely convinced by this. Amongst the tender moments and virile flirting lurked a stronger connection, almost maternal and protective.

Casey (played by Killian Harty), has an immature, playful air about him, which can at times come off as disrespectful.

I understand this was Fernandez’s intention, given that Akasha never lets his behaviour slide. Casey’s casual treatment of the park and its heritage is a carefully crafted guide of what not to do when upon Indigenous land.

A National Park is so much more than entertaining. This play is, in a word – important.

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Peri-Watson

Review by Peri Watson on 30 Jan 2019

Peri Watson is a Perth-based writer and has reviewed for PIAF and Fringe since 2016. Amongst being awarded the Roy Grace English Scholarship and Walter Horeb Literary Award, her achievements include receiving her first piece of hate mail at 19 and drinking 12 cups of tea a day before a deadline.