Queensland Theatre Company

Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre, January 24, 2014

An exploration of the untold stories of Aboriginal soldiers in the First World War, Wesley Enoch’s  Black Diggers is an understated yet powerful attempt to weave Indigenous contribution in World War I into the well-established Anzac legend.

Presenting a narrative of War through 60 vignettes, each self-contained scene flows smoothly together, played out in a charcoal black box strewn with graffiti.

From the diggers’ initial belief that fighting for God and Country would earn them integration into mainstream society, to facing continued discrimination upon their return to Australia, the play explores the untold story of 800 dispossessed Indigenous soldiers who offered up their lives on the battlefields of Europe.

The production features nine Indigenous actors, all men, performing in a wide range of roles, male and female, black and white. Some characters weave themselves through the vignettes; others make fleeting cameos. The script by Tom Wright feels hauntingly authentic, full of verbatim material based on the diggers’ own experiences.

The play is an ensemble work, with the performances of Meyne Wyatt, Guy Simon and Luke Carroll particular stand-outs. The final monologue offered by David Page offers a gripping and ceremonial image of the “Iron Harvest” –...