Vivienne Walsh published this powerful family drama in 2003. The whole play takes place inside a Melbourne home so filled with junk that the house is bent “out of shape with the weight of it all”. The house belongs to Christine, an Irish grandmother reluctantly giving shelter to her daughter-in-law Kerry and Kerry’s three children.
I loved the four strong female characters in God’s Last Acre and the stifled passion that fills the piece. There’s sibling rivalry between the two sisters, some competitive jealousy between mother and daughter and a strong sense of the way that family dynamics can sometimes crush individuals.
Jojo is the oldest of the three children and, at 21, she is the primary carer for her 14-year-old brother, Teague. The middle child, Cassie, is 16 and stripping to put food on the table. Their mother lives in an eternal state of optimism, fuelled by alcohol and the hope that her partner will come back to take care of his family. The grandmother, whose house this is, lives in a permanent state of nostalgia for her birthplace (Ireland) and disdain for her daughter-in-law.
When Teague abuses another child at his special school, Jojo is left to try to sort things out.
CASSIE: Maybe he’s a monster.
JOJO: (fiercely) Shut your mouth.
CASSIE: Well, we don’t know, do we? What he’ll become?
JOJO: I know.
CASSIE: In this house. Around us.
JOJO: He’ll be my responsibility.
CASSIE: We don’t know though. What he’ll turn into.
JOJO: This is why we don’t tell you anything.
CASSIE: She tells me everything.
JOJO: You can’t cope.
CASSIE: She tells us both the same shit. She tells us everything. We keep her secrets for her so she can cope.
There aren’t any easy solutions in God’s Last Acre, but then there aren’t many in life either.
Publisher: Currency Press
Cast: 4F, 2M (could be staged with 1M)