THALIA SMILES, LYSICRATES 6, 2020 – THE YEAR OF COMEDY
The muse of comedy, Thalia, was really smiling on us on Lysicrates Day, 31 January 2020. For a few short days at the end of the month, the months-long bushfire smoke had cleared, and the early February floods had not yet begun. The sun came out and suddenly it was a traditional Sydney summer evening, soft, warm and clear.
And Thalia was right there inside the Conservatorium as well. A very full house, and three funny/serious plays, survivors from a record field of 49, all three all with that particularly Australian tang — a tear in one eye, a laugh in the other. No Need to Shine a Light when it Shines Like Hers, by Matthew Whittet, a girl's struggle to be herself in the face of family pressure; The Party, by Katy Warner, a female Prime Minister's unwilling defenestration by her own party, in close-up; DeOxyRibo-Whatever Acid, by Brooke Robinson, a professor's ethical dilemma when his research shows that one group of people is more intelligent than others.
Who would have thought that these sober themes would raise the belly laughs that echoed off the Conservatorium walls? Or the debates, banter, and teasing among friends, and even strangers, in the audience? It was all very Australian.
Voting wasn't compulsory, though, but only five out of 500 people didn't vote. So it was a truly democratic process, as usual.
The walk from the Conservatorium, through the Botanic Gardens, down to the Lysicrates Monument was magical, with pink clouds and waving branches, and the Greek trio inviting dancing at the end.
Waiting for the announcement, people sat around on the grass in little groups, like figures in an Impressionist painting. The Governor-General, His Excellency David Hurley, and his wife, Linda (who had kindly agreed to become the Lysicrates Patron), jointly announced the winner.
And it was DeOxyRibo-Whatever Acid! Just as excited as Brooke, perhaps even more, were her parents and her cousin, who had come from afar, and who joined the rest of the throng in the stroll up to the party at the nearby Botanic House Restaurant.
Laughter and chatter echoed through the night, and at the end, I'm sure that Thalia, looking down from Mount Olympus 3000 years and 20,000 kms away, was very well pleased with what she had wrought.