Such a lovely title, it’s hard to believe that The Long Forgotten Dream hasn’t been used before. The title belongs to a brand new play by H. Lawrence Sumner currently at the SOH Drama Theatre (until 25 August).
Sumner, a Ngarrindjeri writer, has set his play in an appealing Australian town bringing to life four generations of family history. The story is triggered by archaeologist Simone (Jada Alberts) returning home in triumph. She has been searching the archives of museums for the bones of her great-grandfather; now she has found them jumbled in a dusty box. She wants to give him an appropriate burial. Her father, Jeremiah (Wayne Blair) isn’t too sure about what may follow. Many people will relate to this story. We have frequent reports of fields in north-west France being excavated to unearth the bones of Australian diggers, their identities scientifically established. Recently, the skull of a digger was retrieved from an American museum and given a burial with full military honours. Some may think it all pointlessly sentimental, superstitious even; others consider it important.
The Long Forgotten Dream, set in a small South Australian coastal town, is a sweeping family story with the usual quota of unexpected dark secrets. The production is in the wonderfully capable hands of Neil Armfield whose recent theatre credits include The Secret River, Cloudstreet and Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Armfield and Sumner, between them, may have created another modern classic.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free