There are few really good plays or films about writers. Our craft, unlike those of painters or musicians, does not seem to lend itself to the visual or aural mediums. There is nothing to look at, and much less to hear. And yet the plays and films continue to be made. Writers, and writing we suppose, are important, even if we have little idea how to make this most interior of pursuits appear interesting from the outside except by way of melodrama: the tortured artist, cigarette in mouth and glass of whisky nearby, tearing sheets out of a typewriter and flinging them into an overflowing waste bin.
Sue Smith’s new play, Hydra, its première a co-production between the state theatre companies of Queensland and South Australia, is not immune to such clichés. It concerns the Australian writers George Johnston (Bryan Probets) and Charmian Clift (Anna McGahan), especially the ‘ten long summers’ the couple spent living out a bohemian fantasy on the Greek island of Hydra in the 1950s and 1960s.