Eureka Day

Eureka Day State Theatre Company 2021State Theatre Company South Australia. Dunstan Playhouse. 16 Nov 2021


Eureka Day is glittering comedy theatre gold! Born in Berkeley in 2018, the play is now making its Australian debut under the lively direction of Rosalba Clemente who was artistic director of our State Theatre 2000-04 and along the way has garnered credits and awards for performance, playwrighting directing and theatrical skills training. All that experience is on display here.


Californian playwright Jonathan Spector presciently picked the theme of our time pre-Covid. Today’s (17/11/21) headline editorial in The Advertiser is entitled, “School vax mandate will protect kids.” But what if everyone on the Eureka Day School committee doesn’t agree?


The farcical school committee sits in juxtaposition with the learning-toys and tiny chairs of the private grade school’s playroom in designer Meg Wilson’s wonderfully rendered oak-beamed open space. Spector has great fun poking a stick at neo-liberal overkill by even driving that dribble up a notch.  Discussing a school form, words and phrases like “contextulate”, “negation of people’s experience”, and “transracial adoptee” abound. Apologies and insincere openness mask insecurity and hidden agendas. It is hilarious, but wait, there’s more!


The vax-for-the-mumps issue is put to an online meeting. While the committee carries on, the real focus centres on a projection of the online comment stream, wonderfully devised by AV design and content artist Chris Petridis. The cacophony of the committee combined with the increasing rancor, anger and abuse in the comments results in a continuous peel of audience laughter the likes of which I have never witnessed in theatre. Double bravo!


Director Rosalba Clemente brings together an exceptional cast of mature and new talent. The inspired indelible mark she leaves on them all is a comical over-exaggeration of body movement and gesticulation coupled with new age signatures of camaraderie and faux bonhomie. Caroline Craig, Matt Hyde, Juanita Navas-Nguyen, Glynn Nicholas and Sara Zwangobani all shine in ensemble and have their star turn. Bravo! Adding to the shine are Meg Wilson’s colourful costumes of Californian cool.


The riotous first act is followed in Act II by rather more serious business around the issues. People hold genuine beliefs that they feel are immutable and science, emotion and memory are a potent cocktail for dramatic conflict – in real life. And here, the gamut is investigated in this real life-like setting with pathos.


While the zaniness is exemplary of northern Californian conditions, the issues are everywhere. Double Bravo! A play of our time not to be missed.


David Grybowski


When: 12 to 27 Nov

Where: Dunstan Playhouse