One Life No Regrets – An Original Australian Musical

This is an original Australian musical presented by the Mad Cat Theatre Company, and so reflects the decades that have influenced Australia’s sociological development as a society. After having been to Sweden and England, it is funny to find yourself around the world again, watching a play about a life, country and society that you grew up with and know all too well. It also makes a change from going to see a lot of plays where Australian actors have to assume American accents to tell U.S. stories. This is what makes this original musical so compelling, and appealing. As a musical it deftly portrays in order, the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, 90s through to the Millenium but as it specifically relates to Australia. The original script is by Joanna Buddee, and the strong major character of Sarah is broadly played by Kadey McIntosh.


It is fascinating to watch your own country evolve through the different decades. Firstly, we are witness to the 50s and 60s, which I can’t say I was present to, but we view the heady rock’n’roll rhythms of the 50s, then the peace and love seeking anthems of the 60s.  For Australia, therefore, the 70s is momentous, as my early childhood has its background setting in the Whitlam era, when it was time for freedom and change. As an X-generationer I might envy too, the job security and free university of the 70’s. Of course I remember the eighties as the background to my adolescence, and its fashions particularly look askew in the context of historical relativity, but along the way we have learnt of the sedate, conservative era of Robert Menzies, who was a leader suited to his particular times, a safe Australia, with wealth and resources. Then, remarkably we hear about the disappearance of the Beaumont children at Glenelg, in Adelaide, an ever deepening mystery, in 1966. Of course 1980 too produces another mystery, that of Azaria Chamberlain at Ayers Rock in central Australia. Remember the celebration of a nation? The stories particular to each era intersect each act, as a social scene is played out, from the Bicentennial celebrations, to Cathy Freeman sprinting to victory in the Sydney Olympics. Then of course the turn of the century, and the Twin Towers crumbling in New York, in the global spectrum.


The noticeable change in fashions is a lesson in life and modernity. Human society is in a state of constant flux, the changing of fashion and sentiment with great pace. Each decade has its own social context, and set of concerns and values. However the human relationship stays a constant, with the central character of Sarah yearning for a relationship, then producing a baby along the way, and finally seeing her father die, which I can relate to, having recently lost a parent. Through the movement of time, we not only change and age, but we lose a few people also. However, the main message is rather interesting, there is great significance in this musical. The study of narrative therapy asks us to look at what aspects of the linear narrative of our lives we have missed, just like we do when we look at a film or a play, in order to fully understand it and ourselves. One Life, No Regrets does exactly that, finding that there is no one perfect moment, or narrative. Life is what it is, and no moment need be changed, yet there may be sense to it, if we fill in the gaps, and contest a different viewpoint.  


One Life No Regrets, Renaissance Theatre Kew, 12-14 May, 2017.