Taut, stimulating, topical, thoroughly engaging, ingeniously structured and so precise in its intentions, Kryptonite is a stunning new Australian play. Sue Smith’s brilliantly theatrical story embodies, in just two characters, the complex struggle for understanding between two very different cultures, the landmark events that have defined their contemporary history and the muddy game of politics that threatens to poison their hope for shared ideals in the future. The play spans the quarter century from 1989 to 2014. The terror of Tiananmen Square haunts the 42,000 Chinese students studying in Australia, among them the thoughtful, seemingly timid Lian. She gazes up at political student Dylan, who is protesting naked for Chinese democracy atop the Sydney University Quadrangle. Drawn to each other for reasons that will become increasingly ambiguous as the years pass, Lian challenges Dylan’s casual ideals and changes the trajectory of his life. The future Australian senator never quite breaks free from her orbit, compromising his and his country’s diplomatic future in the process.
Smith makes us care very strongly for both of these people. They are intelligent and full of unpredictable dimension, their romance engrossing and exceptionally funny at times, their odyssey from youth to middle age played out in a series of engaging reunions that leave us feeling increasingly uncertain about our relationship to them. It is a fascinating and rewarding modern story, detailed in scope and research, and effortlessly theatrical in the playing.