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Adelaide Fringe 2015

ODE – Voices of Gallipoli and the First World War

Holden Street Theatres

Genre: Mainstream Theatre

Venue: Holden Street Theatres – The Arch


Low Down

Soldiers go to wars to defend concepts of freedom and nationhood. What impact does that have? Remembering those from World War I, at home and abroad. Remembering those who fought, wept, and the unreturned. Remembering a war’s returned veterans and the states they came back in. A fundraiser for the repercussions of war –


Peter Goers OAM, narrated an hour-long ODE to war writing from WWI in Holden Street’s – The Arch. The house was practically full for opening night. The line-up star-studded and luminous. The readings, though many, had been carefully selected and were well-suited to each reader. Silence and inaction is often underused onstage, it is a most powerful tool, which helps performances resonate with audiences; because less is almost always more. The narration was cohesive and tied the whole production together very well.

With some highly competent actors in the mix and others simply opting to read, performances varied greatly; but everyone read from the heart. In my opinion, the mix of performing and public speaking ability did not detract from the readings, it added a great deal. It can show an audience how writing resonates with individuals on individual bases and how that can, in turn, inform performances. A couple of minor directing issues, such as, all readers not knowing quite what to do with themselves when not reading and some readers not speaking into the microphone directly at times.

The set and light design were great. There was a simple black backdrop, spotlights and flattering use of coloured gels. The music choices were ambient, yet predictable. Costuming was neat with sombre coloured suits and red poppies. I did feel the lectern was somewhat in the way, but maybe that was actually a directing issue. 

‘War stories’ make me apprehensive. I worry they’ll be glorifying or one-sided. Luckily, this production was not. It was a well-rounded presentation on the meanings of war. The performance was moving – tears were shed. The readings were thought-provoking – heads shook and nodded. There was brevity – the audience laughed and sang. Ataturk’s words: 


There is no difference between the Johnnies/ 

And the Mehmets to us …/ they have/ 

Become our sons as well.


caught a collective breath. I would have liked to see a more gender balanced, multicultural, multiethnic line-up in 2015. But, this ODE did exactly what it set out to do: gather, speak, listen and reflect. There was a standing ovation before the show had even ended. 


It is excellent to see so many charities being supported this Fringe. ODE was part-fundraiser for Soldier On, a charity that supports physically and psychologically wounded Australian soldiers. Look out for young actor Lauchlan Williams – he’s one to watch … 


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