Despite its trappings and narrative, this is not a play about Anzac Day, the public holiday in Australia where attention is paid to those who fought for their country in wars, those who were killed or maimed, or worse, survived. No. In the same way Death of a Salesman is fundamentally about the American Dream, so The One Day Of The Year is about the Australian Dream, or perhaps more exactly, about the dream of what it is to be an aspirational Australian. Wayne Harrison has achieved something quite remarkable here. A revival, a rebirth of a classic play without bells and whistles, just relying upon intelligent, visionary story telling and first rate acting. Mark Little’s mercurial, bombastic and, ultimately, desperate Alf is a performance for the history books and the support he has from Fiona Press, Paul Haley and James William Wright is exceptional.
Julie Atherton can play dowdy geek character, svelte seductive siren, and camp fetish magnet (complete with vinyl Nurse’s outfit just covering her pert derrière and barely containing her heaving bosom) seamlessly, as part of the one character. Atherton’s performance encapsulates the underlying promise of the piece: Geeks and Outsiders can have sex, drugs and Rock’n’Roll too! So too do the two other magnetic, but polar opposite, performances of totally committed seductive power. Ben Kerr is hilariously straight as Brad, the quiet, slightly dull husband of Janet with the body of a Greek God and Mateo Oxley milks every comic nanosecond in his turn as the outrageously camp, one-foot-leaping-out-of-the-closet Ralph Hapschatt.