Tom Ballard: Boundless Plains to Share

16 Jan

As a dramatist, I don’t particularly warm to stand-up comedians, especially really good ones.

Stand-up seems like tennis played with the net down. (Writing a play is using the net as a tightrope, and chainsaws for balance.)

Boundless Plains to Share is about how we’ve put a net up and then popped razor wire on top: it’s about Australian policy towards asylum seekers. The title refers to the second verse of our national anthem.

In addition to being really funny, Ballard presents a history of the policy, and offers a solution to the ongoing issue.

Moral conundrum: When writing up a stand-up show, can you be guilty of a SPOILER?

Since our society has had trouble seeing any problem with the indefinite incarceration of children, I won’t be waiting for an answer to that one.


Image by Richard Hedger


So here’s the SPOILER: Ballard has no solution. Instead, he intelligently, humanely and humorously suggests we can do better than we’re doing now. (For starters, we could release all children being held in detention.)

All dramatists (or, at least, really good ones) know that there never are complete solutions.

The whole messy unpleasant business that is Life only ceases to throw up conundrums when you’ve retired from the business.

The best we can do is to try to do better.

Fortunately, when you’re doing so badly*, that’s really easy.

Paul Gilchrist

*Currently 50 children are being held in detention, and over 2000 adults. None of them have committed a crime.


Tom Ballard: Boundless Plains to Share

Belvoir, 13 – 15 January

This production has now closed. I was not invited to write about this show.

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