Some observations on the show, The Man from Ironbark
Stage Left reviewed 'Ironbark' when the show visited Melbourne.
Full text of reveiw written by Narelle Harris
Banjo Paterson was one of Australia's great icons, with his romantic view of the bushman's life and his poems and songs which helped to shape Australia's self image. He came from an era where nationalism was growing, where Australians fought for England but began to define themselves as a new nation, where he and his contemporaries pushed for Federation in 1901. The fierce pride and creativity of the era is echoed in recent interest in the republican issue, proving that Paterson's ideas and poetry are still relevant to modern Australia.
Geoffrey Graham strides on stage and becomes "Banjo" at once. Throughout this fine and
energetic show, he slips on other personas – from prissy bank clerk to the young boy McGuinness and even to the weary horses of North Africa at the end of the Great War. He brings emotion, humour and passion
to this tale of the man who wrote our 'unofficial anthem', Waltzing Matilda.
Biographical details and historical context are woven around poems and songs, all brought to life with the willing
participation of volunteers. Graham works brilliantly with his audience, bringing them in early for assistance with some of the better known ballads and selecting suitable candidates to liven up classics
like 'The Man From Ironbark'."
Involving, funny and proudly Australian, The Man from Ironbark is a splendid family show and is well worth the effort to get to Trades Hall.
(From the Stage Left Website)
And from one who has watched the progress of this "Banjo" bloke...
The Man from Ironbark, one of the many famous poems penned by A B "Banjo" Paterson is well known to all but the most reclusive Australian. The Man from Ironbark, the
performance, is a spell binding waltz back in time to an era where the simple art of poetry was enjoyed and revered by the length and breadth of society. Come visit or revisit if you are old enough, a
truly fascinating place enjoyed by young an old where Mr Paterson comes alive on stage to talk of good and hard times, to see him lapse from his engaging conversation into the inevitable and
unforgettable verses that thrilled a nation.
Take a moment, well, two hours actually, to forget the present and live a recent history of the life and times of Australia through the eyes and words of
our "Banjo." In the hands of Geoffrey W Graham that life and those times and the poetry of the "Banjo" come very much to life, intriguing, funny, sad, even eerie. Geoffrey's performance has had
unexpected outcomes like the often heard comments, "I came expecting poetry and was thoroughly entertained" and "I was talked into coming and was blown away!."
Geoffrey W Graham, with his talent and history, became the perfect combination for this enterprise. He was "born for the role" said Ted Egan, with a country
upbringing where his dad recited 'Banjo" at the dinner table. Then his subsequent journey through university to lecturer, only to quit for his real love and an acting degree. With audience interaction,
an uncanny empathy with his beloved 'Banjo,' some devilish humour and just a little music, the combination is irresistible and spontaneous standing ovations are not unusual. If you have seen the show, I
know you are now nodding your head. If not, you owe it to yourself to find out why there is such "movement at the station" when Banjo, er, Geoffrey comes to town.
Ralph Graham 2001
Hear what people have had to say after experiencing the Man from Ironbark.