…… ‘Stretch’, Jack Hibberd’s play of 1972. This is a 25th Anniversary revival directed by Greg Carroll with Peter Hosking playing Monk O’Neill, and it’s playing in the Comedy Club in the front part which used to be Budinski’s Theatre of Exile and I’m sorry to say it closes this evening. So in virtually the same spot as its world premiere, which I lit by the way back in 1972.

It’s good to see this again for the umpteenth time and to revel in the playwright’s consummate wordplay, none better than his description of the death of the horse Cromwell, or his visit to Mount Kosciusko with Les Darcy where he gives his vision of Australia, and Monk says "Cut it out Les, you cannot extract sunbeams from a cucumber". Likewise his scene with Caroline in the country where he’s travelling along the road and he says "I discern a feather of smoke". He’s a master of the English language and the Australian vernacular is Hibberd. His superb mono-drama technique is just wonderful. He peoples the stage with so many characters. Monk himself is young, medium, and old. Then there is the wonderful encounter with Mort Lazarus, and his rapid death.

I also liked the way in this production it reminded me of the way Hibberd masters time. There is an account for example of a scene that took place in his past with a character called Merv and his girlfriend Dorabella. And this particular moment took place in two previous periods of the past and in two different locations but they’re accounted as if simultaneous. It’s a wonderful fusion of the present and two bits of the past.

This is really accomplished stuff. It’s a deserved Australian classic in fact, and Peter Hosking, who does this in white clown face and contemporary suit, in various stages of disarray it should be said, captures the whole picture very very well. There are one or two moments, when you’ve seen other productions, stick in the memory perhaps better with predecessors like Peter Cummins or Max Gillies, but let me just say this; Happy Anniversary ‘A Stretch of the Imagination’ - great old play.

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