Asian Australian Theatre

REVIEW: Play “Photograph 51” Adds Flavour + Shows How An Asian Actor Can Play Non-Asian Roles

By Guest Contributor Thomson Ch’ng

NSW Convener for the Asian Australian Alliance (AAA) and the National President for the Australian Malaysian Singaporean Association (AMSA) watched the play and here is his review on what he thought of it!

The main highlight of this show was the fact that there was an Asian actor among a group of caucasion actors in a majority caucasion crowd. Directed by Anna Ledwich (with Sophie Kelly as assistant director, who also assisted in directing the previous show about Malaysia Eurasian family – THE ONE at the Ensemble Theatre), Photograph 51 brought a different flavour and experience to Ensemble theatre.

Photograph 51 walked the audience through Rosalind Franklin – a British chemist’s contribution to  the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA. When a passionate and optimistic Rosalind (Amber McMahon) started her journey at King’s College, she was promised to have the freedom to lead her x-ray diffraction. However, senior biophysicist Maurice Wilkins (Garth Holcombe) intentionally sidelined her. It highlighted the ego of a man in what was still a man dominated field a few decades ago.

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Then the incredible supporting role that Gareth Yuen as an underachieving research assistant Ray Gosling came into play. Besides bringing an incredible sense of humour to the show, his key highlight was that he assisted Rosalind in taking their 51st -x-ray ‘photography 51″ which produces a clear depiction of DNA’s ‘ B’ form.

Colleagues James Watson and Francis Crick (Toby Blome and Robert Jago) gain credit for the first account of DNA’s structure. 

As an Asian actor among a caucasion actor and caucasion audience, Gareth has added a different flavour to reflect what a modern and contemporary play in an Australian theatre should be, an area that is still very much dominated by Anglo Australian. 

“Photograph 51” will be playing at The Ensemble in Kirribilli till October 8, so please go to the website to purchase your tickets and support this awesome play!

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