Life in Double
A dark thriller about secrets, betrayal, murder and identity, the first production in Griffin’s 2013 mainstage season is a new play by Duncan Graham, Dreams in White. He sat down with Garrett Bithell.
Every facet of our lives is a commodity. Our thoughts on Twitter, our photographs on Facebook – even our most intimate moments are sent into the ether. The private is being syphoned out, and publicity and promotion is now the rule instead of the exception. Everything has capital, everything can be floated. But what does this mean for the individual? What is real? What is authentic? What is our real identity? Does it matter?
These questions are at the heart of Duncan Graham’s new play Dreams in White, which opened at the SBW Stables Theatre last week, the first production in Griffin’s 2013 mainstage season. Inspired by the events surrounding the disappearance and murder of multi-millionaire Herman Rockefeller in 2010, the play exposes one man’s fall from grace and begs the question: what drives a wealthy CEO to risk his family and security in search of another more dangerous and ultimately brutal life?
“Even though I was inspired by the Herman Rockefeller case down in Melbourne, the play soon took on a life of its own and it was never my intention to recreate that event,” Graham tells SX. “It’s more about the window that story opens to a whole series of class or power relationships in Australia. In the post-GFC world, there’s a greater economic differential between the very rich and the very poor – that gap isn’t closing.”
But Dreams in White certainly isn’t just about an economic gap; Graham casts the net far wider. “It’s also about gaps in identity, and how desire disrupts identity,” he says. “But then that opens up other questions about what is public and what is private? It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: what happens when society becomes a spectacle? What happens to the idea of family, what happens to the idea of identity, what happens to sexuality and intimacy? Where do we draw those lines anymore and how does a family operate inside all that?”
In true Graham style – which was exhibited in plays such as Ollie and the Minotaur and Cut for Belvoir – Dreams in White is non-linear in structure, and presents three separate worlds competing for the space. “So it does actually require an audience to hook into some of those overarching thematic movements,” Graham says. “That’s part of what makes it a thriller – it’s not just the story, but what ideas the story releases or questions, which are never really answered. They’re kind of smashed up against each other in violent ways.”
Directed by Tanya Goldberg, the stellar cast comprises Lucy Bell, Andrew McFarlane, Steve Rodgers and Sara West.
“Dreams in White is an exploration of universal ideas of wealth, class and power through the personal experience of shame and yearning, connection and disconnection,” Goldberg offers. “It delicately, intimately interrogates the self we know and the self we’d prefer no one else knew. This compartmentalisation of lives makes for great theatre.”
[Image] Lucy Bell, Sara West and Andrew McFarlane stars in Dreams in White. Photo: Brett Boardman
Dreams in White, SBW Stables Theatre (10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross) until March 23. For bookings head to www.griffintheatre.com.au.