Review: A Sunburnt History

Nick Waxman gives the audience a new perspective on old themes, creating ‘conversation about transportation and deportation, stretching the bounds of imagination…..’ – an interesting slant on the links between various aspects of Australia’s journey from a prehistoric land mass to wombeasts, the Federation, prisons, the Butterfly Effect, questionable politics and karma….blended seamlessly and humorously […]

Nick Waxman gives the audience a new perspective on old themes, creating ‘conversation about transportation and deportation, stretching the bounds of imagination…..’ – an interesting slant on the links between various aspects of Australia’s journey from a prehistoric land mass to wombeasts, the Federation, prisons, the Butterfly Effect, questionable politics and karma….blended seamlessly and humorously together with immaculate delivery and intelligence.

He crafts artful interpretation with fact leaving you wanting to google everything Australian, yet wondering why you had found history boring at school. Nick’s easy friendliness and warm connection with everyone in the room makes you want to really try and help him recite the names of all the prime ministers, yet not to feel bad when you only know about the last three!

Nick’s mimicry of historic figureheads was not only hilarious, but informative, displaying not only his innate knowledge of our sunburnt history – a metaphor for all sorts of lewd and untoward activities perpetrated by our forefathers – but his sheer genius for simultaneously captivating, entertaining and educating his audience.

For instance, just what did Joseph Banks do for Australia? And was Captain Cook really the hero of the day? Certainly Captain Arthur Phillip was not as clean cut as he would have people believe and this is possibly the reason why he inflicted yet another form of savagery on a minority group of men – certain anti-fun laws that have caused generations of heart-ache for gay men.

And indeed, who are the savages? Out of all this, one could seriously debate that the definition of ‘savage’ be extended and modified to include many factions of the white society of yesteryear, if not today. Certainly the indigenous folk of this sunburnt land scrub up pretty well and could quite justifiably object to being labelled as savages.

So really, what is this amazing country based on? We have a huge melting pot of influences – leaders with secret agendas, poets, mad Irishmen, suffragettes, out-dated laws from England, a multiplicity of indigenous languages, racism (yes, it did and still does exist), major displays of ineptitude on behalf of those who really should have known better (has that changed?), experiments in prison systems, cities with names that we should all know the history of but don’t, and a shady volunteer  system for recruiting army cadets. And there are more……..

Sounds serious, and it is, but Nick somehow manages to bring us back to some place of appreciation that reminds us that we can imagine what Australia would be like without some of the less salubrious aspects of our sunburnt history, but it wouldn’t be what it is today. Whether that is a good thing or not, I don’t know, but that is for you to decide.

I loved this show and Nick’s ability to cover so many salient historical events in so short a time is nothing short of incredible – not forgetting the humour he manages to inject into even the most dire circumstance.

The very relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the ‘Lord and Master Barber’ in Seaford created the perfect setting for this show. If I had a beard, I would go there and indulge in getting it trimmed and shaped – maybe just like our forefathers did!

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