East of Everything: articles

Tom Long and Richard Roxburgh

Tom Long and Richard Roxburgh

Eastern promises

AUSTRALIAN drama - ABC1's East Of Everything - has Richard Roxburgh shuffling along the beaches.

Richard Roxburgh has good reason to grin.

While Sydney and Melbourne suffer under a bitter cold snap, the latter city experiencing snow on its periphery, Roxburgh is strolling the fine sands of Byron Bay’s main beach, trapped under a spotless, sun-drenched sky.

Anticipation for East of Everything is high. Not least as the gentle six-part production has been penned by Deb Cox, famed for the fondly remembered SeaChange. For Roxburgh, who entered the production at the end of his acclaimed directorial debut Romulus My Father which last year won three AFI Awards, including best film and best direction the appeal of local stories remains strong.

“I do love working here,” Roxburgh offers, captured in the shade of a tree during a lunch break. “Working with Australian crews and telling stories so close to home. I love travelling and doing things overseas too, but I guess it’s like any experience of coming home … it’s always a relief to be home and I feel that with work as well.”

Pensive in his responses, Roxburgh acknowledges the obvious comparisons East Of Everything will draw with SeaChange.

While similarities between the two series are present the small- town gentleness and humorously unique characterisations he says that Cox’s latest work is more emotionally intricate.

“Of course there are some elements (that are similar to SeaChange), but that’s because it’s Deb and because there’s a sensibility at work here that is, well, hers.

“But I think it’s also an extremely different work, I think it’s a lot darker and gets down to the dirty entanglements of life and explores the things that lie underneath.” What lies below is a family brought together through tragedy. It may ring familiar, particularly in TV terms, but Cox softens such blows with subtle humour.

At its core, East Of Everything explores the familial difficulties of two estranged brothers, Art (Roxburgh) and Vance (Tom Long) Watkins.

Art, a travel writer finishing his latest book in the Himalayas, is suddenly forced to return to the fictitious town upon the news that his mother is dying.

It’s a homecoming he would rather do without, having fled the coastal hamlet and his many remaining attachments to the town namely family, former fiancee and son years earlier. The issues remain. While Art was able to put distance between them for a while, his return invokes many confrontations including his own eventual realisation of his loss.

Roxburgh concedes the production is a rare exploration of male relationships.

“It focuses on the relationship between these brothers and a son and an entrapment that’s issued to them by the death of a mother. In that way the relationship between the brothers and father and the son Art and his estranged son Josh (Craig Stott) are definitely the starting points to the drama.”

Roxburgh said he found it easy to embrace the role, although his recent real life experiences in parenting he welcomed his own son Raphael into the world last February helped him engage the difficulties Art has with his estranged son.

“There’s no way, once you’ve had a child, that that can’t inform the nature of playing a father,” he says. “I feel totally different about the scenes that I’ve played with Craig to what I know I would have felt had I not had my boy.”

The notion of family extends beyond the page and on to the tight knit set.

Roxburgh has been joined on set by his wife and son. Co-star Gia Carides’ children and husband Anthony LaPaglia are also present, as are many of the crew’s partners and children.

“It’s certainly open to kids and family,” Roxburgh says, complimenting one of the young Carides’ girls on her dress sense as she whizzes past in a blur of pink tulle. “Having my wife and baby here, it feels like this unimaginable goodness has been shining on me.”

Little wonder he’s smiling.

East of Everything, tonight, 8.30pm, ABC1

By Richard Clune
March 29, 2008
Sunday Mail (SA)