Kalgoorlie's racism exposed in Meyne Wyatt's hard-hitting play

A son haunted by his relationship with his dead father in Meyne Wyatt's City of Gold Image credit Da
A son haunted by his relationship with his dead father in Meyne Wyatt's 'City of Gold'. Image credit: Daniel J Grant/Black Swan Theatre

City of Gold
Written by Meyne Wyatt
Directed by Shari Sebbens
Starring: Meyne Wyatt, Mathew Cooper, Ian Michael, St John Cowcher, Simone Detourbet, Myles Pollard, Trevor Ryan
Black Swan Theatre Company Perth until March 26, Sydney Theatre Company from May 7

City of Gold is a semi-autobiographical, slightly magical-realist tale by actor/writer Meyne Wyatt telling of his return to Kalgoorlie following his father’s death. The town is notorious for its racism and Wyatt pulls no punches in depicting it and expressing his rage.

It opens with an embarrassing but hilarious filming of an Australian Lamb TV advertisement that is drenched in patronising racism. The ad's lead actor is torn between his need for work and his revulsion for the industry.

Knowing that Wyatt performed in just such an advertisement sharpens the satire. The struggles of Aboriginal actors is a recurring theme and Wyatt hammers it home in a five-minute-long monologue at the beginning of Act 2, which he performed on ABCTV’s Q&A last year.

The story revolves around the family home, as siblings jostle each other, sharing anger and pain. Slowly another story — that of an Aboriginal death at the hands of police — starts to interweave.

The truth of exactly who has died and in what circumstances comes as a shock.

Wyatt carries the play on his shoulders, after all it is his story. However, while he shines, the rest of the cast also excels.

[Watch Wyatt’s monologue on Q&A.]