The Removalists

27 May

Full disclosure: I really like this play. I always have.

And Leland Kean’s production is terrific.

I like this play because I don’t like the characters.

I like that these actors let me not like the characters.

I like that the characters don’t like each other. There’s not a lot to like.

I’m thrilled by the revitalizing energy of a play and production like this.

REM 7 - Simmonds, Kenny & Ross handout

We are told at drama school, as we flirt, doze and doodle, that characters need to be sympathetic. Conservatives want it that way. They don’t want to be challenged.

It can be tempting to say: ‘I want to like these people, at least some of them, because I want to believe theatre is a mirror. If I don’t like them (any of them) there are two alternatives: either I’m not likeable, or theatre is not a mirror.

The first alternative does not bear thought.

The second alternative is a possibility, but it will leave me much poorer. That’s because theatre is a magical mirror that does a jolly good job of not just reflecting my momentary appearance, but seemingly the entirety of Life, and that such a thing could be captured and condensed is extremely consoling, for instead of fear at Life’s wildness and open-ended possibility, I can continue in my (privileged ) complacency.

So, if I don’t like the characters I won’t like the play. There’s too much at stake.’

But brilliant satire undercuts this easy out. And this is brilliant satire.

Williamson’s characters are gloriously unsympathetic; too weak, too violent, too selfish.

And Kean’s cast is wonderful. The performances are hilarious. The responses of Caroline Brazier as Kate are worth the price of admission alone. Sam O’Sullivan as Constable Ross provides top class clowning.

The changing power relations are fascinating to watch.  Anger and humiliation are perpetually paid forward.

In this cutting indictment of the violence inherent in our society, I have a favourite scene.  It’s when Kenny, knowing he’ll be beaten by the police, begs the hired removalist for help. And the removalist, the man with no real back history in the play, and so therefore everyman, says it’s not his business.

It’s not our business.

How often do we say that?

Veronica Kaye

The Removalists by David Williamson

at the Bondi Pavillion til 15 June

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