Brisbane in 1942 was a very different place. Australia was was in the midst of the Second World War and everyday Australians were fearful of attack from the approaching Japanese army. When the mother country weren’t able to protect us, Australia turned to Uncle Sam who sent almost one million troops to Australia.
Life in Brisbane at this time is not easy and Fourteen year old Danny Fisher is right in the middle of it. On top of all of the usual difficulties that come with being fourteen, his older brother has just been killed in the bombing of Darwin, his parents aren’t coping with the loss. When he meets an American pilot he has a friend, but tensions between Australian and American troops are rising fast and loyalties are questioned.
Queensland Theatre Company’s world premiere ‘Brisbane’ is a pretty gutsy production. To name a piece of work after a city is a pretty bold move – it suggests that the writer is confident that they have truly captured the heart and soul of the place at a given point in time, and that is exactly what play-write Matthew Ryan has delivered.
While this reviewer is too young to remember the events surrounding the infamous Battle of Brisbane in 1942, I was accompanied to the theatre by my grandmother who remembers this period of Australia’s history well. After the show she met some other audience members of her generation in the foyer who, despite having never met, all immediately bonded over their shared recollection of the themes brought up in the show.
Despite the serious nature of wartime fears, grief and loss, ‘Brisbane is remarkably funny as it showcases the famous Aussie humour which helped millions of Australians through some of our nation’s most difficult moments.
This story is both heart breaking and heart warming, but most importantly, this story is our own!
Brisbane is currently playing at The Playhouse, QPAC until 2 May. Tickets are available online or call 136246.