Tag Archives: The Spook

The Spook

30 Mar

With apologies to L P Hartley, the past is a foreign country (more specifically, one of those obscure, miniscule European states who take Eurovision seriously.)

Historical comedies often function on the premise that we’ll happily laugh at people from the past. The temptation to feel superior is….overwhelming. And, really, who’s being hurt?

Photo by Bob Seary

Set in Bendigo in the late 60’s, The Spook by Melissa Reeves presents the conflict between small time ASIO operatives and the local branch of the Australian Communist Party. Much of the humour – and there’s plenty of it – comes from the skewing of pettiness and posturing in the face of genuine issues.

Laughing at our own irrelevance is an Australian tradition.

Or is it something more sinister? Humility is healthy, until it becomes negligence. The Spook guarantees a lot of fun in its playful mockery of banality and ego-driven myopia, but Reeves makes clear that political action is both necessary and significant. It has to be done, and it has to be done with care.

All politics are local, except when they’re not – and they’re not when our neighbours cease to be people and become types. See those around you as participants in some grand apocalyptic battle and it’s easy to forget they are human beings, fragile and flawed, just like yourself.

The Spook is a Cold War comedy, but only Australian political naivety could explain a failure to recognise the play’s contemporary relevance. The myth of the grand battle is still being told.  

(Speaking of forces of darkness: COVID hates theatre. It’s done its evil best to close this production on several occasions. Theatre needs actors to have spent lots of time together beforehand, in the rehearsal room, on the set – and on the first weekend of this production it was apparent that the wicked schemes of the malevolent virus had had some impact. But this is a brilliant team offering some wonderful performances, and I am sure by now the enemy has been vanquished and theatre holds the field. Courageous. Audacious. Exuberant.)

Veronica Kaye

The Spook by Melissa Reeves  

New Theatre until April 9

https://newtheatre.org.au/the-spook/