Actor and writer Tim McGarry is set to appear in the Australian premiere of Before The Meeting at the Seymour Centre in May, a raw and emotional play about the consequences of addiction on the human experience. The play follows the story of five characters before they attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and explores the interplay of relationships through the lens of addiction and recovery.
“It’s incredibly dramatic, it’s funny, its heartfelt, it’s kinda got all the right ingredients,” McGarry told City Hub about the production. He plays the character of Ron, a gay man in his 50s who lives a quiet life with his partner.
“Ron’s quirk is that he’s a hypochondriac,” McGarry said. “I’m a little bit like that myself! That’s why I relate to him.”
The play, set in Pennsylvania, confronts alcoholism in a humorous and authentic matter. McGarry said that Before The Meeting is relevant to both national and international audiences, and that Australians tend to have a “makeshift, joking attitude to alcohol.”
A Leichardt local and Australian theatre enthusiast, McGarry as long been a contributor to the Australian theatre scene. He was Creative Director and Producer at Monkey Baa Theatre Company from 2005 to 2017 and has co-adapted and produced almost 20 Australian works.
In 2021 McGarry was commissioned by the Queensland Theatre Company to adapt Trent Dalton’s novel Boy Swallows Universe, an open-hearted story about struggle and strife, to the stage. He also adapted children’s book There’s A Sea In My Bedroom by author Margaret Wild in an Australia Chamber Orchestra production.
McGarry said that Before The Meeting is unique in how it tackles the subject matter of alcoholism. “We are kind of going behind the doors of something we all know about… we never tap into who these people are.”
A multi-award winner for his productions and adaptations, McGarry spoke about the difference between telling a story as a writer and an actor.
“By the nature of adapting the work as a writer, you’re approaching every single angle of it.”
In contrast, McGarry said his experience of acting is “taking a micro approach” and that it revolves mainly around his own character’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
Ultimately, McGarry says that Before The Meeting is about “ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. They just happen to have an addiction.”
Before the Meeting is set to premiere in Australia on Thursday, May 19 at the Seymour Centre, Sydney.