Hannie Rayson’s latest play Extinction is a realistic mix of emotion, deceit, high drama, sadness and hope, all within the framework of an important conservation message.

Entering the Fairfax Studio theatre at the Arts Centre we see a stark stage that engaged minimalist props with the clever use of a huge screen projection setting the mood for each environment, whether in the vet clinic, bush or city apartments and offices.

The theme unflinchingly investigates the murky waters of cross-pollinating idealists with university rationalism at the big end of town. It tackles the tangled relationships between a university research department head, Heather (Natasha Herbert) her brother the vet Andy (Brett Cousins), Heather’s research assistant Piper, (Ngaire Dawn Fair), who works with her brother and is also in a relationship with him and with mining magnate Harry Jewell (Colin Lane).

Harry rushes an endangered Tiger Quoll he has hit with his vehicle to the vet clinic where he meets Piper and Andy.

Rayson’s take on the loves, the lies, getting in bed with the enemy, people’s proclivity to change their points of view makes for some interesting dialogue.

Superbly acted by Red Stitch Actors Theatre and directed by acclaimed film director and producer Nadia Tass Extinction is a sometimes funny, sometimes sensitive and engaging play highlighting people’s ability to give up on themselves and trying to protect others with a self-destructive modus operandi. Andy highlights this by rejecting love when he realizes that he has a genetic disorder and as a consequence sends both the most important women in his life into the arms of a despicably nice mining magnate.

The depth of Harry’s betrayal becomes most apparent when Piper sprouts his neo con philosophy back at Andy.

It is an important story played out in a low key but measured pace, one for the whole of age and gender appreciation. The final scenes do turn the tables on the fragility of the human condition juxtaposed against another endangered species and offering some hope.


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