Posted in:


Reading a play can be a two edged sword, in that you interpret it how you choose, not necessarily how playwright intended, but in Hydra, Sue Smith has deconstructed the emotional and destructive love between what is billed as Australia’s famous literary couple Charmain Clift and George Johnston, weaving the words of their acclaimed works throughout their everyday lives into a play that is powerful, raw and as tumultuous as the people themselves, making it very difficult to misconstrue the intent of the piece.

Set on the Island of Hydra, Charmain Clift and George Johnston have left behind the post war years of Sydney to follow their dream; to live away from the madness of city life, to return to the simple pleasures and to give their children and their writing time to grow and mature.

Told through the eyes of their oldest son Martin, the years of what turned out to be almost exile on Hydra, paints a fascinating canvas of passion, talent, jealously, obsession and in the final years and days of their life together, illness and alcoholism.

Charmain dreamed of being free, being able to write, to dream and to fly in her new life on Hydra; George wanted the simple life after the years spent as a War Correspondent, a life where his children could grow without the trappings of a more mercenary civilisation.

Being the first artists to escape into a modern bohemian lifestyle on Hydra, they were the beginning of an eclectic group who discovered Hydra, believing it to be a place where talent would blossom, that daily life was simple, wholesome and achievable.; sadly this dream turned out to be far less than the shining vision once held.

Facing poverty, struggling to write the ‘great’ novel, deteriorating health and the crumbling of the dream, George finally begins to write what was to become the award wining novel My Brother Jack, and then the follow-up novel Clean Straw for Nothing. Charmain never realised her dream of writing her great novel, considering George was the focus and her role was that of midwife to his work.

Their talent was remarkable, their story one of tragedy and despair, their life together one of immense highs and desperate lows.

Performed in March to huge acclaim by the State Theatre Company of South Australia and Queensland Theatre, Sue Smith has captured to perfection a storyline which will remain with both the reader and the audience: a play which could be considered as on its way to becoming a classic piece for intimate theatre.

AuthorSue Smith
PublisherNew South Publishing
DistributorNew South Books
ReleasedMay 2019