'Commencing with a school performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Shakespearean themes of suffering and reconciliation persist as three families on separate holidays are united during a fierce storm.
'Immigrants Harry and Vic love their adopted country but are faced with their son Tom’s terminal illness. Jim and Gwen fret over their daughter Meg’s blossoming independence and her friendship with the socially unsuitable Tom. Roy is unable to console a grief-stricken Coral over the death of their only son in Vietnam.
'But with the help of some Shakespearean fairies and a spectacular storm, these families are reconciled and face the future anew.
'For two decades audiences have been enthralled by this story about the coming of age of both a group of individuals and the country in which they live. Despite being set almost 40 years ago, this multi-award winning play is as relevant as ever with its themes of reconciliation and loss.
'Away is sharply observed, clever, funny and yet very moving. Out of the familiar family ingredients, Gow has constructed a magical play that every Australian can relate to. It depicts the hopes of a new generation, prompting us to consider what is ultimately most important in our lives.' (Publication summary)
Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 10 (NSW Stage 5)
Australian identity, belonging, coming of age, connection to place, death, emotional age, family, friendship, generation gap, holidays, reality/unreality, reconciliation, redemption, relationships, resilience
Critical and creative thinking, Literacy
First produced by the Griffin Theatre Co., Stables Theatre, Sydney, 7 January 1986 and by the Playbox Theatre Co., Melbourne, 1986.
Toured Victorian regional centres 1987.
20th anniversary tour 2006. Performed at The Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide, September 2006.
Given a staged reading at the Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli, 14-16 September 2016.
Director: Janine Watson.
Cast: Kate Box, Thomas Campbell, Rowan Davie, Stacey Duckworth, Sean O'Shea, and Suzanne Pereira.
Produced by Griffin Theatre Company, SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross, 17 June - 8 July 2006.
Director: Michael Gow.
Designer: Robert Kemp.
Lighting Designer: Damien Cooper.
Cast: Leon Cain, Barbara Lowing, Joss McWilliam, Daniel Murphy, Francesca Savage, Richard Sydenham, and Georgina Symes.
Performed at the Canberra Theatre 26-30 September 2006.
Produced by Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre, 24 February to 25 March 2017.
Director: Matthew Lutton.
Designer: Dale Ferguson.
Lighting Designer: Paul Jackson.
Composer & Sound Designer: J. David Franzke.
Choreographer: Stephanie Lake.
With Marco Chiappi, Julia Davis, Wadih Dona, Glenn Hazeldine, Natasha Herbert, Heather Mitchell, Liam Nunan, and Naomi Rukavina.
'Away reached the dubious status of ‘Australian Classic’ in a remarkably short period of time. It has become so ubiquitous that I would hazard a guess that fully two thirds of the Australian audience for this production who are under thirty will have been involved with the play either as performers, audience, or students. In the keynote address (‘The Agony and the Agony’) at the National Play Festival that Michael Gow gave in July 2016, required reading for anyone interested in theatre, he describes his ambivalent feelings about having written a work that has become a perennial set text – a sure way of having the life drained out of it. He also says, ‘for me Away is a play about death. In fact it’s an AIDS play, though I didn’t know it at the time.’' (Introduction)
'To celebrate the year’s memorable plays, films, concerts, operas, ballets, and exhibitions, we invited twenty-six critics and arts professionals to nominate some personal favourites.' (Introduction)
'Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company’s co-production of ‘Away’ explores the shadows of Gow’s sunny and much-loved text.'