They call them the Stolen Generation—Aboriginal children who were torn from their families by the Australian government during the 20th century. Here is one of them, Jack Charles, and he is here to testify. Born in 1943, raised as a ward of the state, subject to abuse and separated from his cultural roots, he grew up hard and fast. Since then he’s had quite the life: criminal, drug addict, convict—and actor. Now he stands before us at his best, to tell us his tale and to present a case.
This is a show intended to rouse the heart, but that’s not all it does. Charles is actually a mellow, friendly presence, and the performance is funny and entertaining. Sparked by a documentary account of his life called Bastardy, Jack Charles V. the Crown opens with a clip from that movie, followed by a projection of Charles’s rap sheets. What follows is a dark trip down memory lane as Charles, accompanied by a three-piece band, takes us through years of abuse and self-destruction, ending with a speech to an offstage court. The speech is both plea and accusation, and it’s a jolt to the audience. Jack Charles is nothing but a man—unique, flawed and deserving of a dignity his government did not allow him. Now is his chance, and it’s your chance to bear witness to one hell of a story.
There is something special about Uncle Jack. Something about his voice, his stature, his laugh, his story—something powerful but humbling. It was that something that ricocheted people to their feet to give the man a standing ovation. It is most certainly, something that you won’t want to miss.