Set in the Australian summer of 1967-1968 the play commences with a school performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Shakespearean themes of suffering and reconciliation persist as three families on separate holidays are united during a fierce storm.

British immigrants Harry and Vic love their adopted country but are faced with their son Tom’s terminal illness. Jim and Gwen fret over their daughter Meg’s blossoming independence and her friendship with the socially 'unsuitable' Tom. Roy is unable to console a grief-stricken Coral over the death of their only son in Vietnam.

But with the help of some Shakespearean fairies and a spectacular storm, these families are reconciled and face the future anew.

For two decades audiences have been enthralled by this story about the coming of age of a group of individuals and the country in which they live. Despite being set almost 40 years ago, this multi-award winning play is as relevant as ever with its themes of reconciliation and loss.

Away is sharply observed, clever, funny and yet very moving. Out of the familiar family ingredients, Gow has constructed a magical play that every Australian can relate to. It depicts the hopes of a new generation, prompting us to consider what is ultimately most important in our lives.

Read Hilary Bell’s response to Away in Robin Shall Restore Amends, a free essay from Currency Press. {{PlayboxLogo}}

  • naturalistic with elements of magic realism
  • 0
  • 10 total
  • 4 female identifying, 6 male identifying
  • young people, history
  • 18+, 16 to 18
  • young adult, adult, children
  • Currency Press


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Male | Unspecified | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 44

EXTRACT: Our son is very sick. It's a cancer of the blood. He was very bad this year, we thought it was time to get ready. But he got through it. It's called 'in remission'. But it will come back. Every day we watch for bruises. Or to see if he's more tired than usual. We made it into another year at least. But we don't look forward. We haven't given up, no, no. That would be a mistake. We don't look back and we don't look forward. We have this boy and we won't have him for long.


Female | 50s | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 12

EXTRACT: When that woman woke up and saw that donkey at her feet I thought my heart would break. I had to wipe away tears. To wake up and find something you want so badly. Even an animal. And then she woke up again and saw her husband and loved him. That boy! In that blue light the shadows on his face and neck were like bruises. e looked so sick yet so wonderful, so white, sol cold and burning. 'What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?'I kept saying it over and over in the dark. All these children, having fun, playing and met sitting there in the dark wiping away tears. I could hardly watch them. Their legs and arms painted gold. And that boy's hair, so black. And his smile. 'What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?'Is it better for them to die like that ? Looking like gods? Burning, gold, white. What's that word they always say in those plays? Alas? [she sighs]. Alas.


Female | Teen | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 31

EXTRACT: We have a game we play every year. We sneak presents home, we hid them, we wrap them up in secret even though we can hear the sticky tape tearing and the paper rustling; we hide them in the stuff we take away, we pretend not to see them until Christmas morning even when we know they're there and we know what's in them because we've already put in our orders so there's no waste or surprise. And Dad always hides his in a pathetic place that's so obvious it's a joke and we all laugh at him behind our backs but we play along! You new what was in that box. You left it behind. I want to know why.


Male | 40s | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 33

EXTRACT: When we were first courting I took her to the pictures to see Gone with the Wind. Afterwards she was so quiet, but excited, something in her head was turning over and over. She was living in this funny little house in Surry Hills then, with all her sisters, it was a pretty dirty area. The next week I went round to take hr out to a dance. Everyone else had gone on some church picnic and she was home on her own so I knew we'd have a few minutes alone. I got there a bit early because I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather be doing. I went round the back and as I went past the kitchen I could hear her talking to someone. I stopped at the back door. She way saying what old Vivien Leigh said in Gone with the Wind - just before the intermission and the war's been on and everyone's dead and the house's wrecked and the crops burnt and she's scratching around in the dirt for some old potato or cotton or something just to feed her family and she stands up against that red sky and says: Ás God is my witness, I will never be hungry again'.


Male | Teen | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 50

EXTRACT: Yeah, that's what I had. An infection. Everyone knew I had some infection. I was sick. I was told the infection was running its course. That I had to fight. I did. One day a doctor came and sat on my bed and had a long talk with me. He told me that before I got completely well again I would get a lot worse, get really, really sick. And no matter how sick I got not to worry because it meant that soon I'd start to get well again. He was full of shit. He couldn't look me in the face to say it. He stared at the cabinet next to the bed the whole time. And the nurses were really happy whenever they were near me, but when I stared them in the face, in the end they'd look away and bite their lip.


Read the alternative ending to Michael Gow's 'Away' at Currency Press.



"...It addresses a veritable treasure trove of themes, including family ritual and conflict, Australia at war, grief at the loss of loved ones, materialism, adolescent sexuality, terminally ill youth, acceptance and letting go."



Interview with Joseph Couch, director of the Sydney Theatre Company production of Michael Gow's 'Away'.



"Away is inspiring. To experience the play on such an intimate scale is a moment to treasure."



Interview with director Luke Morrison, on the Purely Pensive Productions production of Michael Gow's 'Away'.



Word document (71kb). Teaching idea for 2004-5 HSC English contributed by NSW English Teachers’ Association member, Jenny Holland from Kingsgrove High School. This teaching idea is designed to supplement the teacher’s own unit of work on this module and elective.

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