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Away - speech
Transcript of Away - speech
Michael Gow’s Away is a play which explores the ideas of self- discovery and change. Three families, each from different social classes, depart on an iconic Australian holiday to the beach. In the play, Gow utilises the characters to demonstrate that going away physically is linked to their mental developments. With the help of references to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer night’s Dream, Away uses Gwen to show the significant psychological changes made by the characters during the holidays to the coast. Tom throughout the play acts as a catalyst for the change in other characters and is associated with Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The theme of anger and intolerance is best depicted by the character of Gwen. At the start of the play and before the trip Gwen is introduced to us as a materialistic snob who constantly tries to pick fight with everyone and prove that she is always better. At the beginning of Away, Gow introduces Gwen’s spiteful and materialistic nature when she insults Tom and his family by bragging about their new caravan "with everything you could want in it" Her snide and aggressive nature is also seen later in the play, when Gwen is packing bags with Meg; Gwen criticises Meg’s behaviour and tries to prove to Meg that she is more superior. It can be seen that Gwen was a selfish and aggressive person before she undergoes her transforming journey of self-discovery.
Gwen’s remarkable transformation in her character is triggered by Tom’s role as a catalyst in the play by her physical journey of going away. The first reference of Gwen’s transformation is seen after the storm; Gwen’s sense of materialism is diminished as her possessions have been swept away or broken. During this scene, Gwen realises how easily possessions are lost, thus readjusting her views on what is truly important in life. By using the storm as one of the main turning points for Gwen, Gow explores the power of nature in solving problems and, in this case, it is shown as a power to ‘wash away’ Gwen’s issues.
The representation of the four campers as the pixies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and referring the storm is an ingenious link to the famous Shakespearian play. The intertextuality references help the audience relate to well-known plays and receive a deeper meaning of Away. The Mendelssohn music sets the mood of the scene and gives the audience a hint of the events coming. After talking with Vic, Gwen completes her transformation and loses her difficult and aggressive personality. This is where the theme of reconciliation comes in. She becomes an understanding and compassionate mother and is reflected by her conversation with Jim, which she says ‘What do you think of me? You must hate me? Why do you still bother? I’m sorry...’ (p46). The power of Tom’s influence on Gwen is the most prominent in this scene, when Gwen talks with Vic and realises his condition. Here, Gwen opens her mind to the world and finds out that life is precious and easily lost, that people need to enjoy every moment in it. Gwen realises that she has been too selfish and have not allowed her and her family to enjoy themselves, especially Meg. The transformation made by Gwen is essentially linked to her going away as she changes drastically near the end of the play where the storm and Tom come into action.
Away is evolved around self-discovery and transformation and how the characters deal with the changes. By going away physically, it provides the characters with a better perspective on life and a clearer mind as they move away from the strenuous day-to-day activities. Gwen is stunned when she realises how important life is and how they should live it to the full. By going away physically, people are making their first important steps towards self-discovery and change.
1960s Gold Coast