BLOOD RELATIONS book cover   Blood Relations
David Malouf
Introduced by May-Brit Akerholt

Cover: John Wood as Willy, Laurence Clifford as Dinny and Paul Goddard as Kit in the Sydney production 1987.

Dustjacket synopsis:
"In his first play, the award-winning David Malouf peoples his stage with characters whose inner selves are as immediate as their environment. A family group gathers at Christmas about the dynamic and manipulative patriach, Willy - a man of many pasts. They are joined by two inquisitive characters bent on uncovering his secret. The relevation uncovers a further mystery of guilt and reconciliation."

First Paragraph from the Introduction:
Patrick White was the first playwright to offer a serious alternative to the form and idiom of the realist theatre in Australia. His early plays are forerunners to the poetic and epic drama which playwrights such as Dorothy Hewett, John Romeril and Louis Nowra explored in the 1970s, followed by Stephen Sewell, Janis Balodis, Alma de Groen, Michael Gow and now David Malouf. Their plays dramatise inner worlds and the conflict between the freedom of inner life and the restrictions of social life.

In Blood Relations David Malouf evokes an Australian spiritual life through an innovative use of dramatic techniques. He creates a theatrical form which enables the epic and symbolic nature of the characters' quest to emerge. Rather than focussing on domestic, social and political reality, Blood Relations dramatises a spirit, because its characters are seen in relation to natural forces and a larger, universal environment. Willy (now McGregor) moves between the real world of his secluded beach house and an inner reality where dreams, desires and thoughts are not just taking shape in his own mind but are dramatised in the theatre. His other names, William La Farge and Spiros Kyriakou, are part of his whole characterisation rather than mere aliases from the past; they all merge to form one identity.

Malouf's dramatic dialogue, with its mixture of heightened, poetic and colloquial language, elevates characters and action into a dimension where real life merges with a life of the mind. Through language, the play explores the characters' psyche, not in the form of the traditional monologue but in a dramatic realisation of inner thoughts.

From the Currency Press paperback edition, 1988.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2002 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: April 18, 2002.