RELEVANT and timely are the two words that come to mind while talking to Nedlands actor Emily Rose Brennan about Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production Water.
Commissioned by artistic director Clare Watson, the Jane Bodie play is set in a not-too-distant future WA where there is extreme drought.
“That’s where the title Water comes from but also from the fact that refugees have to travel over vast expanses of water to get to Australia,” Brennan said.
“My character’s father, played by Igor Sas, has been responsible for a Scott Morrison, or Philip Ruddock even, way of pretty hardline, conservative policies on asylum seekers and refugees.
“He’s responsible for something similar to the Manus Island setup and the population has come to realise it’s completely inhumane and starting to push back against that.
“He’s dealing with that and his family come to celebrate his birthday, which also happens to be election night. It’s a real boiling point and my character Joey brings home a very special guest.”
NIDA-trained Brennan said although the play dealt with issues common on her daily newsfeed, she engaged with the production even more because of its focus on family.
“It has a lot of heart and nods to Arthur Miller,” she said.
“Those plays that are about a member of the family returning and bringing in their ideals they’ve collected from out in the big, wide world; basically dropping a bomb on their family and making them deal with it.
“There’s a lot of love in this play between the family members, and even though they have different ideas and ways of interpreting the refugee crisis and environmental issues, they’re dealing with it.
“I don’t think anyone hasn’t clashed with their family over political or even moral issues.”
Taking a break from her PhD at Curtin University in fine art, Brennan said she welcomed the chance to work with Bodie who she knew from her time in Sydney and was behind one of her favourite plays, This Year’s Ashes.
“She is such an honest, heartfelt writer and there is just so much family love in her plays as well as humour,” Brennan said.
“I think audiences will definitely feel a lot and question a lot as well; it hits you on an intellectual and emotional level.”
Where: Studio Underground
When: May 9 to 26