Euthanasia explored in new play by David Cole

FIRST SEEN: Director Dene Kermond in the foreground and actor Christopher Samuel Carroll during the rehearsals. Photo by Shelly Higgs.
FIRST SEEN: Director Dene Kermond in the foreground and actor Christopher Samuel Carroll during the rehearsals. Photo by Shelly Higgs.

It’s not easy getting old.

Thoughts that plagued a younger mind – reputation, feuds, an impulsive or irresponsible streak – is replaced by a fading memory and agility.

To age gracefully is to stay younger that little bit longer, to retain a sense of self in one of the most confusing times.

Goulburn Post journalist David Cole’s new play explores this and the length a woman would go to to ease the pain of old age.

Irene’s Wish, follows the relationship between an elderly, cantankerous woman Irene, and her carer Stuart.

Irene, who has terminal cancer, is looking for an accomplice to help her exit.

Stuart has a gambling habit and is looking for a way out.

Two unlikely characters suddenly need each other to get what they want.

Amidst this backdrop is Julie, Irene’s daughter and Alf, an old flame of Irene’s who re-enters her life.

As the narrative progresses the pair are forced to balance their baggage and face their past, ultimately reshaping their futures.

Drawing from his own experience with his father’s passing, Cole said he didn’t write the play because it was topical or political, or that he intended it to be preachy.

Despite its intense themes the play can be easily interpreted as a modern Australian tragic-comedy.

“At its core, this play is about love. About how love is a redemptive force that may even transcend death,” he said.

“A moral question in the play is about whether we should have the right to decide when we can exit this life – especially if a person is suffering from a terminal illness.

“Their relationship is at the core of the play and a lot of the humour comes from their interplay, despite their age difference.”

Goulburn Post journalist and playwright David Cole. Phot: Shelly Higgs.

Goulburn Post journalist and playwright David Cole. Phot: Shelly Higgs.

The playwright is working with The Street Theatre in Canberra as part of First Seen, a program designed to refine and produce plays, giving creatives an opportunity to receive feedback following the show.

Cole will also have the opportunity to discuss his play with actors for the week, moulding his vision. The original idea was fleshed out with dramaturg Peter Matheson about two years ago.

“First Seen offers me an outlet for my creative writing. As a journalist by day, I write mostly news stories, which is different," he said.

“It feels so free to just explore ideas with other people – but it is also maybe a little scary too? That said, I have a thick skin from being a journo now for 15 years.”

When asked what type of works he would like to produce, he listed Australian realistic theatre with a focus on contemporary issues.

“I think it must be relevant to the audience. They must want to sit there for an hour and watch it. There are too many other things competing for people’s time and attention,” he said.

“I hope to develop the best play I can out of it.”

Irene’s Wish will run at The Street Theatre, Canberra on Sunday July 15 at 3pm. Tickets are $15. 

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