Elaine Crombie gives a brave voice for change in Janet’s Vagrant Love

The show is more of a series of vignettes than a coherent narrative drawing on Crombie’s life. These are interspersed with their songs, which stylistically range from gospel, country and blues.

She performs on guitar while Amaru accompanies Derwent on keyboards.

The simple set consists of just one couch, giving the impression that the warm-hearted Crombie is talking to you in her living room.

Elaine Crombie in Janet's Vagrant Love.

Elaine Crombie in Janet’s Vagrant Love.

She sometimes breaks the fourth wall and speaks up to the audience after telling a story about sexual assault. “Who needs a hug?” she asks. And hugs a woman who raises her hand.

There are stories of pain and loss – from her best friend since childhood, her brother and a few months ago from her beloved Nan. This pain is so recent that Crombie pauses to collect himself.

There are happier, weird memories of traveling through outback Australia with her nan, mother and cubs.

Her boys are what comes to her mind the most. How to raise them to be proud of their culture. She’s scared, she admits. Fear of what can happen to young indigenous men, even in broad daylight.


And there is also blazing anger. This reaches a crescendo as she recounts how her young sons were arrested by the police. It fades into a searing song about tribal youth who have died in police custody.

Directed by Kirk Page, the show is raw and ends abruptly, but the songs are delivered with passion in a voice that ranges from melancholy to anger.

This Sydney Festival production appears to be in dialogue with Thomas Weatherall’s Bluewhich has just opened at the top of the Belvoir, is about a young indigenous man’s struggle with loss and grief.

As we consider an Indigenous voice in Parliament, Crombie has raised her voice to sing of the struggle to survive and thrive – lest history simply repeat itself.

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https://www.smh.com.au/culture/theatre/elaine-crombie-raises-a-bold-voice-for-change-in-janet-s-vagrant-love-20230120-p5ce3q.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Elaine Crombie gives a brave voice for change in Janet’s Vagrant Love

Jaclyn Diaz

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