The Way Things Work

12 Nov

Ever since Dorothy Parker quipped of The House Beautiful that it was the Play Lousy, the more attention seeking of the critical fraternity have dreamed of such gift titles.

And so, if I was of this infantile nature, I would pounce on The Way Things Work and say that it’s Not The Way Plays Work.

But Aidan Fennessy’s play is intriguingly nontraditional in its structure. Two actors play six separate characters in three distinct scenes. The satisfaction of character development is sacrificed for the pleasure of discovering plot connections.

Leland Kean’s cast has fun with the comedy. On opening night there were fluency issues, but these will iron out.

In the first of the triptych, Nicholas Papademetriou is a state minister accused of corruption. He claims that corruption is endemic and systematic whenever there’s a hierarchical power structure.

Photo by Zak Kaczmarek

Photo by Zak Kaczmarek

Without denying the need to explore other possible power structures, the minister’s argument is rather absolutist. A little like saying that human beings will inevitably suffer disease so why bother looking after your health? Or I’ll be tired tonight so why get out of bed this morning?

Corruption is real. But cynicism merely justifies it. It’s one of the ideologies that enables it.

In the final scene, in a deliciously provocative moment, Ashley Lyons plays a hit man searching for a type of honour. The character refers to the Anzacs. ‘They did what was right.’ Does he clearly connect this with what actually happened to them? If this is honour, who’d want it?

A play like this sends you off into the night (a night perhaps both literal and metaphorical) asking whether we have developed the ethical tools to build an honourable society?

Veronica Kaye


The Way Things Work by Aidan Fennessy

A Rock Surfers Theatre Company production

Bondi Pavilion til Nov 29

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