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The One Day of the Year

James William Wright and Adele Querol in The One Day Of The Year, Finborough Theatre James William Wright and Adele Querol in The One Day Of The Year, Finborough Theatre. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Have you seen those ‘Australian’s suck’ adverts on London billboards? Two beach images show a man and a woman – gorgeous, naturally – sucking on straws for a health drink with this tag line boldly embossed above them; it appears advertisers think historically perceived British notions of Australians – that we don’t like them – are still running strong today.

Alan Seymour’s 1960 play The One Day of the Year about the raucous celebrations of ANZAC Day explores how Australians felt – and feel – about this Pom prejudice. It also looks at what being a proud antipodean means and questions the validity of celebrating the tragic waste of war.

It’s an impressive piece; both poetic and zinging with the sort of everyday rhythms of family life that ring true to anyone with parents they’ve disagreed with. Seymour does labour his point though and this story of a young man whose education both empowers and pushes him away from his working class parents is overstated at times.

Director Wayne Harrison handles the momentum of the piece well and the overall feel is fluid and honest. The individual performances – from Mark Little among others – have some lovely moments but oscillate between comfortable and awkward, with the emotional peaks feeling forced.

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Verdict
An engaging look at Australian identity and class
Honour Bayes is a freelance arts journalist who has written extensively for The Stage and had work published in the Guardian, Independent, Time Out, Exeunt Magazine and The Church Times. She is currently Associate Editor on Chinese arts magazine ArtZip and has worked as web editor for the Royal College of Art, managing its arts and design coverage.
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