Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Music

Cash out of Hand: A Convicts Tale – beauty from pain

5 February 2022

Brilliant musicianship turns an Australian convict story into something beautiful, says Kobi Arthur Morrison.

Cash out of Hand: A Convicts Tale, Jet Kye Chong ·
Irish Club of WA, 4 February 2022 ·

A story that is as Australian as it is Irish, Cash out of Hand: A Convicts Tale recounts a story that is all too familiar in Australia. The Fringe World concert at the Irish Club of WA draws on the autobiography of Irish man Martin Cash and his life as a convict, escapee and bush ranger.

This story has been brought together by percussionist and producer Jet Kye Chong and he is joined onstage by three other musicians from the folk group The Hár, plus narrator Ciaran O’Sullivan, who reads from Martin Cash’s beautifully poetic autobiography.

The team work well together to tell Cash’s story. Under Chong’s brilliant musical leadership the combination of guitar, tin whistle, flute, banjo, violin and bodhran project the storyline into something more like a cinematic feature. Each song brings its own emotion to illustrate the chapter being read – sadness, frustration, confusion, contemplation, joy – all while retaining a sense of the Irish roots. The celebration of Irish culture through music helps to re-emphasize Cash’s longing for his original home.

This is a familiar storyline; all through postcolonial history we have people who were sent against their will to Australia. With Cash’s story we witness a person who tried to make the most of what they had.

There are many histories intertwined in Australia, some marked with great heartache and pain. This is what makes our story so much more admirable, when through this pain we are still able to make something beautiful. The team behind Cash out of Hand have done just that and that earns them five stars.

Cash Out of Hand: A Convict’s Tale continues until 6 February 2022.

Pictured top: narrator Ciaran O’Sullivan is joined by musicians to recount the story of Irish convict Martin Cash. Photo: Joey Eng

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Author —
Kobi Arthur Morrison

Emerging writer Kobi Arthur Morrison is a Bibbulmun Noongar born and raised in Perth. Kobi works at the UWA Centre of Social Impact and Propel Youth Arts WA and spends his spare time participating in music projects such as Moombaki, Koondarm, Koorlong, Madjitil Moorna and Endeavourous. In 2018 he was awarded the Perth NAIDOC Youth of the Year award. He loves playgrounds that are integrated into nature, particularly the tree house.

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