They Saw A Thylacine by Human Animal Exchange. Created and performed by Justine Campbell and Sarah Hamilton. Q Theatre, Queanbeyan. Wednesday 27 April, 1.00pm & 8.00pm. Thursday 28 April, 10:30am
A wisp of a piece called They Saw a Thylacine has just drifted briefly through the Q Theatre for a three-performance visit. In an hour two women tell their thylacine stories and it is easy to see why the elegant and elusive Tasmanian tiger seems to have become extinct. One of the two women is a tiger tracker who celebrates the animal’s beauty and intelligence. The other, the daughter of the zookeeper looking after the last one, is part of a last attempt to hold onto what is vanishing.
Sarah Hamilton is the tracker, Justine Campbell is the zookeeper’s daughter, both undervalued for their knowledge and perception. The tracker battles with a predatory hunter she meets on the way. The knowledge of the daughter that might have saved the last thylacine is ignored by the men who take over the zoo after her father dies.
On a bare white stage Hamilton and Campbell also growl their way disturbingly through those male voices. A culture blind to the natural world and its values surrounds the two women. Human beings as a species do not come out of this story well.
A brief review for a short, poetic and haunting piece.