The Great Wall of China is a revenge tragi-comedy for four actors (and an ASM) of which two play multiple, stereotypical parts. Set in 1982 it takes the form of a staged, audio drama offered by a Bill Collins character in the manner of a Golden Years of Hollywood presentation. It puts under scrutiny the shifting personal power politics of an arty couple in Sydney’s inner city.
George, a celebrity Aussie actor, married to Hazel, a struggling writer, are in the thick of marital problems. They consult a marriage counsellor. As a result of his advice the power balance between them shifts: at the opening George is the one in control; at the end Hazel holds the whip.
Originally written as two one-act plays (The Marmalade File and Squeaking Pips) it was workshopped at an Australian National Playwrights' Conference in 1983 and subsequently morphed into a radio drama as the result of a commission by the ABC Radio Comedy Unit in 1989. The ABC then recorded and produced it for radio in 1992 starring Graeme Blundell, Jennifer Hagan, John Hargreaves and Julie McGregor.
John Hargreaves was concerned that, if his real name appeared in the cast list when the play was originally recorded for radio, people would consider him to be washed-up (such was the prejudice associated with actors appearing in radio drama at the time). Because of this he only agreed to take part on condition that he was credited as Racy McKennel. Of course, given that John’s now no longer with us, I’ve accordingly reinstated his real credit in the ‘Production history’. However, the reference to him as Racy McKennel in the Bill Collins’ blurb in the script still stands.
- FF Piano, 2021
- Audio Drama
- full length
- 2 female, 2 male
- young adult, adult
- Australian Plays Transform