Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: Three Winters Green

The third revival of Campion Decent’s 1993 play Three Winters Green is timely.

In the midst of another pandemic, it reminds us of the devastating worldwide impact of HIV, an epidemic that has been forgotten as COVID-19 is compared to the Spanish Flu of 1918.

The play follows eight people through three years of their lives in the early 1990s, depicting the effect of HIV on them.

The seven actors who take on these roles are newcomers from Canada, Maddison Silva and Julia Muncs; Samuel Welsh, who plays the closeted school teacher Joseph, whose desire for the schoolboy Francis battles with his moral principles and legal constraints. Norah George is the alcoholic Catholic mother Maxine, the death of whose gay son teaches her a lesson in humanity. Tom Kelly takes on two roles as Martin, who is having a relationship with aspiring actress Jen, and the perplexed Mick, who plays an ignorant country boy. Ben Jackson plays the non-conformist Andrew, who is coming to terms with being HIV positive, and the engaging SebrinaThornton Walker takes on the role of Francis, the gay schoolboy who has a crush on his teacher Joseph and later becomes a drag artist.

We learn early in the piece that Martin and Francis have died of HIV and are two angels watching over their living friends and commenting on their progress.

The stage is bare except for the red HIV ribbon and folded piece of cloth on the small stage which is unravelled at the end to reveal it as a HIV quilt.

Each scene, whether in a bus or a bedroom, is played out with actors addressing the audience directly in this tiny theatre, and this renders their words and feelings all the more affecting and intimate.

Co-director with Decent is Les Solomon, who says,The play was always about how a group of friends form a community and find ways to cope with a pandemic. Seeing it in the light of the world we are living in today makes the play both historic and an exercise in bonding. We’re all finding it very helpful and a positive experience in these difficult times. We know audiences will take that same feeling of strength from this play.”

This play is more informal than Tony Kushner’s brilliant Angels In America, but it shares its urgent message for tolerance and understanding. It is good to be reminded of this.

Until Nov 20. Fringe HQ (Formerly Old 505 Theatre), 5 Eliza Street, Newtown. $40-$50+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyfringe.com

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