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Brisbane review - Black Box: innovative and cutting edge

By Nahima Abraham


Black Box

Written by Paul Hodge

Directed by David Berthold

Presented by Grey Gum and Tinderbox Productions

Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

South Bank

Season ends May 19.

Duration 140 mins with interval.


You don’t know him. But he could have saved your life. If music evoking the Golden Era of the Swingin’ Sixties is your jam, or cutting-edge ideas and innovation in theatre; then look no further than Black Box.

 It is a musical adventure into the life of one of Australia’s most important, and yet overlooked scientists – David Warren. Starring voices of prominent and notable theatre folk such as Bryan Proberts, Liz Buchanan, Hugh Parker as well as a surprise Eurovision star, Dami Im to name a few, the play was physically helmed by Michael Cormick (David Warren) and Helen Dallimore (Ruth Warren). So, who was David Warren? Why is he so important?

Simply put, Dr Warren was the inventor of the Black Box – for flight recording, a divisive device that helped countless lives, and prevented disasters for many more. This underdog of a scientist who, through many years of hardship and shouting upon deaf ears, met with success late in life upon recognition for his craft.

The musical ran through the gamut of his life from childhood to death at 84 years of age, a veritable auto-biography condensed into just over two hours. Cormick and Dallimore did most of the grunt work, which was impressive for being directed in such a fascinating and novel way.

So, what was innovative and cutting edge about Black Box? The unusual subject matter isn’t in fact what took the proverbial cake. The whole musical was meant to be listened to with headphones. You heard me. The entire audience was treated to crisp audio pumped directly into a spectacular clear and comfortable set of headphones. Immersive theatre isn’t new, however Black Box was done in such a way that it played to both the traditional realm of theatre and a modern, shiny one.

The play was seamless for the most part, there did appear to be some technical snags at times, but overall, the novelty of integrating theatre and technology for real, meant a unique viewing experience. Just remember, check and make sure your headphones are on the right way. You’ll thank me later.





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