What happens when our games are about war, and war is played like a game? Playwright Melissa Reeves has teamed up with director Susie Dee in Archimedes War – a dark comedy exploring the frightening depersonalisation of modern warfare at Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre from 23 November to 2 December 2021.
Fifteen-year-old Arki can’t shake the dead bodies of the players he’s killed in his online combat games on his PS4. His mother takes him to a psychiatrist who thinks he has PTSD. In her quest to help her son, she turns to those involved in real world war afflictions including a Major from the Australian Army and refugees from Afghanistan.
“Archimedes War was inspired by reading about the devastating effects of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on combatants and civilians,” said writer Melissa Reeves. “It explores the terrible mental cost of fighting or living with a war from the perspective of what happens back here at home.”
“There is a cultural centrality to films and games about war that sits oddly with the fact that even as we were deeply involved, fighting a war in Afghanistan, back here in Australia, we were curiously unaware, even uninterested in what was going on.”
Melissa Reeves is a Melbourne playwright whose career extends over three decades. Her plays include Anthem and Who’s Afraid of the Working Class (with Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius and Christos Tsiolkas), Happy Ending, Furious Mattress, The Spook (awarded the 2005 Louis Esson Prize for Drama in the Victorian Premiers Awards and two AWGIES for best new play) and Sweetown (awarded the Jill Blewitt Memorial Playwrights Award in 1993).
She wrote In Cahoots and Storming Heaven for the Red Shed Co., Great Day for Melbourne Workers Theatre, Road Movie for Back to Back Theatre, Salt Creek Murders for Mainstreet and Magpie (with Richard Frankland). Melissa also co-wrote the screenplay for the film Blessed, based on Who’s Afraid of the Working Class.
Director Susie Dee has worked extensively in the theatre as a performer, devisor and director in Australia and overseas for the past thirty years. She has been the Artistic Director of three theatre companies: Melbourne Workers Theatre (MWT), Union House Theatre (UHT) and Institute of Complex Entertainment (ICE).
She has directed works for the Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre and many independent theatre companies, garnering many Green Room Awards along the way. Susie directed Patricia Cornelius’ plays, SHIT and Love, both touring to the 2019 Venice Biennale Theatre Festival. Susie most recently directed Anthem for 2019 Melbourne International Arts Festival and the 2020 Sydney and Perth Festivals.
Earlier this year she directed RUNT – a new work with Patricia Cornelius and Nicci Wilks that had a sold-out season at Fortyfive downstairs Theatre. In 2018 she was awarded the ‘Living Legend Award’ from Melbourne Fringe.
Winner of the Griffin Award in 2016, Archimedes War is set in 2013 during the war in Afghanistan and features a stellar cast including Daniela Farinacci (Lantana, Lion, MTC’s A View From The Bridge), Jim Russell, (Back to Back Theatre’s Small Metal Objects, Nowhere Boys, Passenger), Richie Hallal (Theatreworks’ The Table) Jordan Fraser-Trumble (MTC’s Gloria, Red Stitch’s HIR), and Eva Seymour (Ch 10’s How to Stay Married, Anthem, Puffs.)
Archimedes War was originally set to premiere in 2020 but was rescheduled to June 2021, then again to August 2021, before finally opening at Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre this month.
Director: Susie Dee | Featuring: Daniela Farinacci, Jim Russell, Richie Hallal, Harry Musgrove, Jordan Fraser-Trumble, Eva Seymour | Set and Video Design: Romanie Harper | Set and Costume Design: Bethany J Fellows | Lighting Design: Lisa Mibus | Sound Design: Ian Moorhead | Production and Stage Managers: Cassandra Fumi & Claire Shepherd | Producer (2021) and Marketing: Katie Rowe | Director’s Assistant: Karla Livingstone-Pardy | Assistant Stage Manager: Georgie Bright | Writer: Melissa Reeves
Main Hall – Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, 189 High Street, Northcote
Season: 23 November – 2 December 2021
Information and Bookings: www.darebinarts.com.au
Image: Archimedes War – photo by Pia Johnson
Warning: Suicidal themes, adult themes, coarse language, haze, loud noises, graphic war footage and references to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).