This Much Is True - The Old Fitz
This Much Is True is a heartfelt and sentimental play about the misfortunate souls who occupy the Rising Sun Hotel, in the back streets of inner Sydney. The pub is more than the local, it’s their community hall. This is Louis Nowra’s latest play, and like much of his work, matches fine dialogue with an engaging story. His character from Cosi and Summer Of Aliens, Lewis, makes a re-appearance, and narrates much of the action of the play. The characters within This Much Is True are a band of eccentrics that wander in and out of Lewis’ life. They speak openly of their disadvantage, addictions, and scrapes with the law.
The story plays out over a year in small vignettes of recounted experiences, and bizarre escapades, culminating in a betrayal by one of their own, and his avenging by one of the other characters. It’s a play of warm humour, and finds its focus on evoking an experience of the pub and the people within it.
Nowra’s deft hand for dialogue makes the play an enjoyable and at times hilarious show. There are some lovingly crafted performances, particularly from Justin Stewart-Cotta as the aging drag queen Venus. Septimus Caton does a great job wrangling the huge cast, as a quasi-conductor of the symphony of stories. He becomes a bit of an outsider observer of the things that occur in the Rising Sun Hotel.
The play is entertaining, but its most interesting moments are the ones where the genuinely comical characters show a sense of humanity and vulnerability. Stories of drugs, drunkenness and depression are generally played with a wry smile. But when the play becomes darker and broodier, it is at its most powerful.