Multi-talented Benjamin Law, best known for his memoir The Family Lawand its television adaption, makes his playwriting debut with Torch the Place. A tragi-comic tale about a dysfunctional Asian-Australian family, it’s written with wit and warmth, and satisfyingly realised by a fine cast.
What a breath of fresh air that cast of five is! All are of Asian heritage, and some speak Cantonese at times – a welcome change from the Caucasian, English-language dominance of Australian theatre.
Charles Wu, Michelle Lim Davidson, Diana Lin and Fiona Choi. Photograph © Jeff Busby
Torch the Placeshows that a theatre company can better represent the community it’s part of (and, one hopes, attract more diverse audiences from that community) by supporting local stories. This is the second play borne out of Melbourne Theatre Company’s Next Stage Writers’ Program, which involves not just commissioning but also actively developing new Australian plays. It launched last year with Anchuli Felicia King’s Golden Shield, a season highlight featuring a cast dominated by Asian-Australians.
Among them was Fiona Choi, who also played the mother of Law’s character in The Family Law. For Torch the Placeshe’s Teresa, the eldest of three...