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Word Count: 985
Michael Gows Away is a slender uncomplicated play the kind of text that is sometimes dismissed by VCE teachers as being too easy for their students And yet paradoxically Away is quite difficult to write about The plot is unashamedly slight the characters are sparsely drawn and not always likeable the language is economical rather than memorably lyrical and there are few issues of substance to debate Where it arguably does shine is in Gows unremitting and systematic dismantling of the petty deceptions and deceits that make daily living bearable for the characters Once these emotional props are exposed for what they are newly vulnerable individuals are forced to confront unwelcome truths about themselves Ostensibly about three families setting out on their respective summer holidays Away hones in fearlessly on the disconcerting aspects of their private lives As the play progresses we gradually become aware of the motivations and concerns that underpin their actions We see how fraught and tenuous are the relationships between family members We see what significance going away has for each individual and how inextricably the rituals of holidaying are linked to both self-preservation and the desire to escape For Ron following the loss of his son in the Vietnam War the Gold Coast trip is an important indicator of a return to normality of his wife becoming less mad Being normal in this instance means picking up the pieces and getting on with life after tragedy has struck it means no longer weeping and wailing and carrying on and beating your breast For the distraught Coral on the other hand being normal means deliberately avoiding anything that might upset others We wont mention helicopters or jungles or mines she promises Ron Ill be silent on all controversial topics One of the more moving passages in the play is her poignant reflection on the school play Is it better for them children to die
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