Yesterday my wife and I went to Sydney to see a play by the Australian playwright Suzie Miller, “Caress / Ache”.
We like those little outings as they give us the opportunity to see the “Big Smoke” and leave our humdrum existence in the outer reaches of New South Wales behind. We take the train as we would have trouble parking the car in the city.
The train is a modern double-decker one. The trip is comfortable and provides us with a view of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the towering escarpment on the other. Later, before we reach the outer suburbs of the Metropolitan area, the train is snaking its way through a dense forest. It is always a pleasurable trip up the coast. Nature is touching us!
Tucked away in an alley behind busy Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, is the Griffin Theatre, a small theatre which has the development and staging of Australian plays as its objective.
The auditorium seats only 104 and being there gives the audience that special feeling of intimacy with the performers. We are being touched by the closeness of the actors and the events on the stage.
After a beautiful lunch with our daughter Caroline we had a few minutes to relax, in the smallest of all possible parks, before the beginning of the play.
This small corner of Sydney is on a more human scale than the big, brush city generally is. There is a village-like atmosphere, seemingly untouched by modernity. Without the cars, you would think to be in the nineteenth century. This “being touched” brings me to the leitmotif of the play: Touch!
Touch feels good as a caress. We exchange touches during intimacy. There is the painful touch; we can yearn for a touch and we can reject it. Music can touch us in a big way. The spoken word and the written word can touch us, circumstances can touch us in a negative, as well in a positive way. “Touch” probably evolved in primeval time and has survival value. It became part of our human consciousness. A touch refused is as bad as one not allowed to a mother for her doomed child.
Miller writes: “We forget that human touch is life-giving. We do not remember that for millions of years we have received comfort, support, warmth and compassion through touch.”
All the actors gave great, polished performances. Some scenes were confronting and since each played two roles it was sometimes difficult to know who was who.
Indeed, our very existence depended upon someone touching another. Therefore, a great theme was brought to the stage. We could see in the faces of some of the enthralled audience that they realised something they had not thought about before. I bet, many went home, feeling they had been touched by a new thought and then touched someone they had not touched for a long time.