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Discovery in Away

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Alex C

on 9 May 2016

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Transcript of Discovery in Away

Discovery in
Away

Act 2
Tom
discusses the impending holiday with his parents
Harry
and Vic each urge Tom to enjoy himself for the sake of the family
Gwen
busily orders her family around to ensure that they are prepared for their holiday. An argument develops with Meg and Gwen exhibits a pessimistic attitude towards their holiday. Gwen says she'll, "have a bex before bed" for a headache.
Meg
demonstrates greater assertiveness by standing up to her mother. "They struggle with the case until it is shut" represents the tension that exists between them and the need for change in their dynamics
Jim
reveals his and Gwen's difficult past experiences and the motivation that drives her behaviour.
Coral
says that sadness is "in the air we breathe." She promises Roy that she will be improve on their holiday as change is what they need.
Roy
expresses his concern and anxiety about Coral's behaviour. He admits to feeling sad too, but believes that they need to pick themselves up and move on; they are not the only ones to lose a son in a war.
Act 3
Tom, Harry and Vic
are seen enjoying their holiday in Scene 5. They are grateful that they were not affected by the storm. Tom's connection to the mischievous Puck, binds him to the storm as the fairies "wreak havoc with noise, light and frenzied activity." His wishes of misfortune on Gwen's holiday from Act 1 come to fruition. This is similar to Shakespeare's
The

Tempest
, which sees a storm act as a catalyst that forces all involved to reassess their lives and priorities and pushes them into a position of self-discovery.
Gwen
makes Christmas Day unpleasant at the tent and caravan city as she initiates an argument with her family about presents. Gwen "carries a twelve-inch fake Christmas tree" and again takes a Bex for a headache before lunch.
Jim
again tries to offer Meg insight into his wife's actions. Jim once witnessed her declare, "I will never be hungry again." Gwen remembers too clearly the poverty and hunger of her childhood. Jim and Meg are faced with campers, who represent the conservative groups of society. Their demands demonstrate their need to over-regulate society, transform the natural environment and deprive holidays of their spontaneity. When given their list of demands, Jim "folds up the list, looks at it and tears it into pieces."
Meg
again stands up to the dominance of her mother. When she realises she has gone too far by saying, "What have you done?" she repeatedly apologises.
Gwen, Jim & Meg
have their possessions destroyed in Scene 4 in the dramatic climax of the play.
Coral
attempts to make conversation with a woman on the Gold Coast. Her intense manner and inability to understand social cues upsets Leonie. Her interaction with Rick is reciprocated. Later in the Act, Coral and Rick are alone on New Year's Eve. Coral is unaware of the implications of spending time with a married man. She accuses Roy of sending Rick away, becoming confused between Rick and her dead son.
Roy
is very disturbed by Coral's behaviour and threatens shock treatment, providing Coral with the catalyst to leave.
Act 4
Tom
reveals to Meg that he is dying and tries to persuade her to have sex with him. Tom shows a vulnerability that is previously unseen as he discovers there will be certain activities and things he will never experience in life. Despite this discovery, his resilience and good humour is demonstrated as he continues to make jokes. His ultimate acceptance of his terminal illness is revealed when he conveys his interactions with staff in the hospital. It is this acceptance that helps his family to accept and heal. Tom plays the drunken sailor in
The Stranger on the Shore
and though it, reveals to his parents that he knows that his illness is terminal and that he is accepting of it.
Harry and Vic
leave after Tom's performance in
Stranger on the Shore
"in another direction" which suggests that they are letting Tom go. They learn that they need to accept reality as a family, rather than deny it.
Gwen
is led off stage by Vic after a distasteful outburst at the beach. The women come back and "have been crying and are supporting each other." Gwen undergoes a change during the play as she learns the news of Tom's condition. She struggles to articulate the Jim her emotions in response to the news. She is unable to take her Bex Powder, "I can't take this powder." Her renewed perception is demonstrated when she says to Jim, "Let's walk. Come on, down to the water. The water's so warm." Nature, water and walking is highly symbolic throughout the play. Gwen's change is also due to the fact she is made vulnerable due to the loss of her physical possessions in the storm and also the fact that Meg begins to challenge her. Gwen leads the applause "thunderously" at the conclusion of Tom's play in support of him.
Meg
demonstrates her maturity and strength in her ability to defend herself against Tom's sexual advances.
Jim
is told of Tom's illness by Harry. Harry says, "Very occasionally we run into someone who needs to know." This suggests that Jim's family will be benefited by the discovery of Tom's illness.
Coral
is at the beach, disguised in a kaftan and hat. It is evident that a special empathy exists between Tom and Coral in her search to rediscover herself. Tom immediately recognises Coral at the beach and it is clear that he has told her about his illness as she asks him, "You're not feeling... sick or anything? Tired?" Tom's acceptance of his illness contributes to Coral's acceptance of her son's death. In Stranger on the Shore, Coral plays a maiden who falls in love with a ghostly sailor and is transformed into a mermaid. She pursues him, but her attempts are futile. She is lonely and sad. He is granted a wish and he returns her to human form. This play within the play is used to represent Coral's detachment from reality. Coral says, "I'm walking, I'm walking" which again represents her transformation and her new ability to move forward with her life.
Act 5
Act 1
Tom
acts as a representative of Discovery throughout the play, playing the mischievous Puck in the school production of
A Midsummer Night's Dream
. This suggests his role in helping other characters to "make amends" and be healed. Tom curses Gwen's holiday, "I hope it rains" and discovers he is proud to belong to a family that others do not value.
Gwen
is suspicious of Tom, thinks that her family is above his, and plays the role of the nagging wife and mother through her distinctive colloquial language.
Meg
struggles to assert her maturity and independence and denies her friendship with Tom.
Coral
is emotionally fragile in the beginning as she is grieving the death of her son. She is seen to have alienated herself from society. Her response to the comedy,
A Midsummer Night's Dream
is unusual and indicates her mental instability. Gow conveys her detachment through her silence.
Roy
is self-absorbed and insensitive to his wife's needs.
Tom
plays King Lear at school. This role is more serious than his role as Puck. Miss Latrobe points out that King Lear is Shakespeare's greatest tragedy because of its representation of the struggle between Man and Nature, Man and Man, and between Man and Himself. His speech draws attention to the need to, "Unburden'd crawl toward death." Being set back at home highlights Gow's perceptions about journeying to self-discovery and the necessity of "coming home."
Jim, Gwen and Meg
demonstrate that their relationships have been renewed. Meg takes the suitcases from her mother. Jim hands Gwen a parcel with slippers in it. She looks at them, then at him and is a bit overcome with emotion. Jim goes to her and they embrace. Gwen's discovery has been emotionally meaningful and has forced her to realise what is really important in life.
Roy and Coral
heal through love. Their wordless reconciliation as he "kisses the shells and her hands" reveals this restoration through the natural symbolism of the sea shell.
Beach setting and nature
The beach represents healing and nature and allows characters to achieve discovery in their lives.
The beach bonfire represents the elemental forces of earth, air, fire and water. It draws the characters outside, into the open.
The open air permits the characters to rediscover themselves, their families and their lives in a more positive light, not tainted by domestic spaces.
Water symbolises cleansing and this is what the setting offers the characters
The characters in need of healing achieve it in natural contexts
Gow mocks the campers through their exaggerated dialogue. They don't value the environment and this is evident when they say, "We want to remove ... all those trees!"
This play shows the power of nature to repair and restore people who have lost their way in a materialistic world
A representation of the storm in a production of
The Tempest
Departure
Significant experiences
Revelation or epiphany
Transformation
What are the distinctive features of Away?
Intertextuality with and allusion to Shakespearean dramas, in particular,
A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest
and
King Lear
The five act structure
The symbolic shift in setting from indoors to outdoors as the play moves through its five acts
The juxtaposition of the comedic and the tragic
The Stranger on the Shore
- the play within a play (mise en abyme)
The blending of short lines, economical in their language, with lyrical passages that reveal the character's depth of feeling
Uniquely Australian setting and context
Gow's dramatic techniques
Minimalist set
Blending of genres - comedy, tragedy, magical realism
Archetypal characters
Contrasting characters
Dialogue
Duologue
Soliloquy
Chorus
Silences
Onstage/offstage
Music
Lighting
Use of props as symbols
Full transcript