‘Remember’, wrote Peter Carey in his 2003 novel ‘My Life as a Fake’, ‘this is the country of the duck-billed platypus. When you are cut off from the rest of the world, things are bound to develop in interesting ways’. Well, yes, of course ‘things’ are bound to ‘develop’. But what does ‘interesting’ mean? The arrival on Broadway of the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s unnamed and unpublished text as ‘The Present’ is indeed ‘interesting’, in the way Peter Carey almost always suggests in his work: ‘interesting’ in that socially discounted way that reduces culture to its banalities while amplifying a kind of Antipodean inadequacy.
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