Review: Skip Miller’s Hit Songs
Skip Miller (Chris Pitman) stands in a gallery and looks at his photographs. At the exhibition he is joined by brother Neville (Rory Walker), partner Alison (Lizzy Faukland), friend Augustus (Mondi Makhoba), and Patience (Assina Ntawumenya). Patience came to Australia to find herself pasted on newspaper, bus shelters, billboards, and Skip’s agents have found her and brought her to the exhibition opening of the photographer who made her a house-hold face. Skip Miller’s Hit Songs traces the lives of these characters on their lives, and their past which lead them to this moment.
Skip, we are told, is an excellent photographer. He goes in to the heart of war torn, drought ravaged African countries, and there he takes out his camera, and he documents. Through the lens he brings a focused eye to a group of people who are suffering extraordinary amounts. Through his photographs he captures unblinking eyes, and through them, we are told, you can see through to the pain and the hope, and you are captivated in the eyes of another.
We must be told these things, because the photographs shown to the audience in Skip Miller’s Hit Songs never justify this praise of a talent or dedication of a lifetime. And if your production cannot justify the excellence of your titular character, how much of the production can really be justified at all? In the final moment of the play, slightly confusing in its lack of explanation, Neville stands and explains just how brilliant his brother was: his talent, his hit songs, were the photographs he took. Behind him, the wall fills with photographs of African people. But there is nothing remarkable about these photographs; unless perhaps you were to remark on just how much they looked like the photographs we all have of ourselves, sitting in our wallets, of our identification.