Review: The Critic: Playwright plots revenge
Above: Gary Kliger and right Dallas Foggarty
By Alex Broun
Directed by Damien Lee
This is a change of direction for the intimate Studio Theatre; a two-handed psycho-thriller rather that the musicals we are used to and it suits the venue nicely.
It is a story that would give nightmares to any theatre critic who had succeeded in upsetting an egotistical playwright. As a critic and a playwright myself, and having given and taken criticism (one critic described one my plays as “It’s not that it is a bad play; it is just excruciatingly ordinary!) I can see both sides of the argument!
In this play Karl “the Axe” Anderton has just crucified playwright Alan Fisher with a scathing criticism of his comeback play. Fisher is devastated and decides to make the critic pay. After another opening night the critic is invited mysteriously to a dingy hotel room where Fisher is waiting for him. Anderton is unconcerned about being threatened but does start to worry when he is attacked and handcuffed him to a chair.
A game of verbal exchange begins as each tries to outdo the other with threats denials and their own idea of what a critic does. I must confess to agreeing mainly with Anderton’s point of view, although not his destructive attitude.
Fisher’s best idea is that there should be no critics at all! Let the public decide if a play is worth watching or not.
Of course it is a play with many words, but they are intriguing words, The script is well written and with some flashes of anger and violence, it keeps the audience wondering when something bad is going to happen – or even if it will. And the shock twist at the end was worth waiting for
Gary Kliger played Anderton. He is a veteran of the Brisbane theatre and has played roles as diverse as Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army and President Roosevelt in Annie. This was a challenging role and he brought his character to life as his cynicism and arrogance, slowly slid into disbelief, panic and eventually fear. It was a good transition. But why is he so destructive with his criticism and can he remember one play he actually liked?
Dallas Foggarty was Fisher and he is an actor more used to light-hearted musicals and comedy than heavy drama. But he knew his lines and worked hard with his character, which was filled with anger and lust for revenge. Together they made a two-hander, which is always a challenge even for highly trained professional actors, tight and fast moving and kept the audience engaged.
The set was well constructed and the lighting and music helped the dark mood along nicely.
The play runs for two hours including an interval.