88: The Big Picture

17 Jun

Jennifer Compton’s The Big Picture is a play about women with few choices. Joy and her friends Mandy and Fran are single mums living in a small Australian town with no prospects and little support apart from each other. When Joy’s brother Guy arrives on the scene he brings a whole lot more trouble as well as a bit of fun to their lives.

The Big Picture

Guy’s soon in bed with Mandy and takes no time to drop her before starting up with Fran, all while living in Joy’s shed, taking a few odd jobs, writing off vehicles and smoking the weed he’s supposed to be selling. Guy fits the larrikin stereotype and Joy’s pretty close to the Aussie battler, struggling to pull herself out of the mess and give herself some choices.

Throughout the play we see Joy trying to get in touch with Jake, her daughter’s father, but Jake won’t have a bar of her. At one point she takes Jodie to meet him.

GUY: Did you miss him?

JOY: Be hard to miss someone who tries to run you down.

GUY: What?

JOY: Saw us waiting, got in his car, tried for a quick getaway, he’s so useless he went into the what’s it called? – the retaining wall, missed us by inches, thousands of dollars damage, got out of the car, Jodie went for him –

GUY: Did she but?

JOY: Kicked shit out of him. Bit him on the hand. To the bone.

GUY: Chip off the old block.

The camaraderie between the women in The Big Picture is lovely, but the play isn’t one that will stay with me. It’s humorous and naturalistic in style, and would probably make a better film than stage play. These are the sort of Australian characters we love on film, but there’s not enough poetry (even though Compton is a poet) or drama to make it memorable as a stage play. At least that’s how I found it.

Publisher: Currency Press

Cast: 3F, 1M

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