To coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, the Genesian Theatre Company in Sydney’s Kent Street has selected “Simpson, J. 202” as its latest production.
An inspiring and deeply moving story about a larrikin lad who became an Australian icon, the play written by acclaimed Australian playwright Richard Beynon, is the extraordinary story of John Simpson, the man with the Donkey at Gallipoli.
Ryan Bown brings charm and passion to his emotional performance in the title role as Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick.
Julia Kennedy Scott as Jack’s mother, Sarah Kirkpatrick and Penelope Berkemeier as his sister Annie both convey the feelings of helplessness and worry that those left behind to keep the home fires burning experience.
Robbie Robertson who plays Charles Cosgrove also gives the audience an emotional and gripping performance as the soldier who shares his tent with Jack Simpson. When they first meet, neither man knows of the horrors they are soon to experience when they reach the battlefront.
Rob White brings a spot of comic relief as Sergeant Hookway, the person tasked with trying to turn Jack Simpson into a soldier.
Directed by Mark Gerard Nagle, who is also the set designer. The action takes place on a split stage, with one half permanently set as the Kirkpatrick family’s kitchen/living room and the other side, a blank space with a white curtain where all the other action occurs, from life in the barracks to the battlefields of Gallipoli. This works very well.
On Saturday 25 April there is an Anzac Day matinée at 3.30 p.m.
Playing until 2 May on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 4.30 p.m. The performance runs for 2 hours 15 minutes, plus interval.
This is a must see for all Australians, both young and old.
Sandra Tiltman Photos: John Pond