After the Deluge: characters

David Wenham as Alex Kirby

David Wenham

The middle son is an outwardly devoted family man with a burgeoning career. Much of his life has been an unconscious quest to win his father’s approval. He has been married to Kelly for more than a decade and has two young sons. Not musical like his elder brother, Alex became an architect, working his way up to larger and larger firms and into positions of greater influence and income. He works long hours, travels a lot, and takes his company obligations, the intrigues and power plays so seriously, that he’s never fully present for either his children or his wife.

But now all of this has come unstuck. With his marriage and career in a heap, his access to his children limited and his father in need of constant care—for the first time in his life Alex must learn to stand alone.

Hugo Weaving as Martin Kirby

Hugo Weaving

The eldest son. His hair is beginning to thin. He is a rock musician, a talented guitarist who, after some early success with two big bands finds himself fading into obscurity. Martin has been estranged from his father for twenty years and neither is he close to his brothers. He went wild at a young age—groupies, drugs, and erratic behaviour and though his body pays more for self-abuse these days, he is still going through the same motions. His relationships now last only briefly and involve affairs with women twenty years younger.

In his own way Martin is as unforgiving and rigid as his father. He has given up on the idea of perfection and cut his losses like his father and shares his father’s lack of faith in the prospect of happiness. It takes a challenging friendship with Annie, a woman his own age to force him to reflect on all this and to devote genuine effort to his music at the risk of failure and ridicule. As the friendship develops into romance he has to resist the urge to trample everything and run—because he is not his father and Cliff’s death is to be his final release from that.

Samuel Johnson as Toby Kirby

Samuel Johnson

The youngest son, and despite precisely the same upbringing as his brothers, remarkably likeable and well adjusted. He works as a suburban solicitor on a low salary and has deliberately refused the lure of greater responsibility and income. He likes his regular hours and the freedom to choose work that counts, ie: work which actually helps someone. Like Alex he married young but in his case it is a tremendously successful partnership. Beth is every bit his match and they adore each other in a healthy; combative way—their only great pain is the child they are incapable of conceiving.

While recognising all his father’s shortcomings and his brothers’ anxieties, Toby is willing to forgive. He would do anything to reconcile his family. But eventually, even Toby’s benevolent attitude begins to crack. Gradually he grows resentful of a father who should have loved them more and now can never repair the damage.

Aden Young as Young/Middle Aged Cliff Kirby

Aden Young

A brilliant young man with the world at his feet. He travelled to London on a musical scholarship, met the woman of his dreams and seemed set for an extraordinary life. Until the war. Young Cliff now a junior officer finds himself in an unscripted horror of battles, shipwrecks, dying men and as a Japanese P.O.W His life is sustained by his Welsh sergeant, Sid (Bob Franklin) with whom he drifts for days at sea in the Java Straits.

Young Cliff survives the war but returns a physically and mentally broken man, incapable of ever realising his early promise, or of expressing his great pain to those closest to him.

Ray Barrett as Old Cliff Kirby

Ray Barrett

The father—in his mid-seventies. As a youth he was musically gifted with an extraordinary life beckoning, until Adolf Hitler chose another life story for him. Now suffering Alzheimer’s, his affliction keeps regurgitating the great loss and personal sacrifices of his life—his failure to realise all the promises of his youth. Through his eyes we see Cliff relive his nightmarish experiences of the Second World War as real to him now as they were sixty years ago.

After the war, physically and psychologically broken, Cliff discovers that Maggie—his great love—has married, believing him dead. Years later, married to a woman he does not love and with three sons, Cliff again meets Maggie, and later in life is presented with the possibility of regaining all that has been lost. But it will mean leaving his sons.

Rachel Griffiths as Annie

Rachel Griffiths

A woman who has seen much, suffered a great deal and has risen above it. As a consequence she tolerates crap from no one. Following the death of her husband in a motorbike accident in which she was also involved, Annie has been on her own. With a permanent limp and various hidden physical and emotional scars she runs a successful coffee shop and brings up her two daughters. Martin is the first man she has shown any interest in for a very long time—but her justified suspicion of him and her own private phobias threaten to keep them apart.

Catherine McClements as Nikki

Catherine McClements

Alex was Nikki’s first real boyfriend and she fell for him completely. But over the years the contradictions and unspoken neglects of their marriage have accumulated into profound ambivalence. She has become tired of waiting for things to change, deep down she knows they won’t. It is her decision to end the marriage and in so doing, discovers she feels much more than she thought she would.

Kate Beahan as Maggie

Kate Beahan

Maggie is the great love of Cliffs life. She is a feisty young violinist, who Cliff meets in a competition. They fall madly in love prior to the war. In every way they are meant for each other. When the war separates them, Maggie is told Cliff is dead. Desperate and unhappy, she marries only to find Cliff has survived. Later in life they re-meet and she discovers her passion for him has not diminished with the passage of years. But is it too late?

Essie Davis as Beth

Essie Davis

Toby’s wife of several years and every bit his equal. They met at a party, spent the night together and have hardly been apart since. Against the weight of the world they cling together—happy and generous. Beth can see in a blink the failings and shortcomings of her husband’s family—but loves the fact that Toby can’t. Her great pain in life is that she can not deliver this ideal family man a baby.

Marta Dusseldorp as Eva

Marta Dusseldorp

Eva has worked with Alex for many years and grown very close to him. During the years of his marriage the two have conducted a non-affair—with much flirting and time together but no sex. With the collapse of Alex’s marriage the ground rules have changed if only she can survive his core meltdown.

Vince Colosimo as Eric

A multiple role—ostensibly a male nurse—a decent, if disinterested career at an Aged Care Facility, Eric unconsciously assumes a number of identities for Old Cliff from Doctor to School Principal. From a working class background with a ready humour and an ability not to flap it is Eric, strangely, the outsider to the Kirby family who forms perhaps the best understanding of the old man.

Simon Burke as Michael

A decent, successful indoor cricket playing man with a desperate desire to please others. As such, he is not to be trusted under any circumstances. He is a friend of Alex and Toby’s, who shortly won’t be.