Laura and Ben (Michelle Wells and Brendan Evans) watch calamity unfold in the newspapers with Ian and Sue (John Evans and Deborah Bishop).
When Dad Married Fury
By David Williamson
Directed by Gary O’Neil
Centenary Theatre Group
Chelmer Community Hall
Cnr Queenscroft and Halsbury Streets
Season: February 2-March 19. Running time two hours including interval./ Bookingbs: 0435 591 720 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here was another enjoyable night with the Centenary Theatre Group. The play flowed well; pace was mainly high, the acting of high standard, and the costuming excellent. And the theatre has nice new seats, which makes a huge difference to audience comfort.
Dad, Alan, is a conscienceless old dude in his seventies: Fury is a former beauty queen turned greeting card tycoon. She is a 33 years old American and Alan’s kids, Ian and Ben, don’t like the idea that they are newlyweds. They are even less impressed when they discover there is no pre-nuptial agreement.
Alan, you see, was one of the 2007/8 GFC scammers who left people penniless and managed to squirrel away $100 million for himself. The boys worry that their inheritance might well go to the “gold digging” woman who has latched onto their father.
Ian, a university associate professor with Green pretensions is married to Laura, whose father committed suicide after being persuaded to gamble his mortgaged house on Alan’s scams. This left her widowed mother Judy living in very reduced circumstances.
Ben, a money-grubbing Bogan, with his wife Sue sitting squarely in his corner, is determined that he and Ian get the inheritance and to hell with the Yankee bride.
So, while waiting at the airport for Alan and Fury’s arrival strategies are planned and spanners prepared to get thrown into the works.
The boys and Sue want the money but Laura wants Alan to pay back the money he took from her father so her mum can buy a nice little house by the water.
So the lines are set and David Williamson spins his plotlines.
Then, after the appetite is well and truly whetted enter Fury, she is a caricature of all things American, a Tea Party Sarah Palin ultra conservative Republican who loves God and Jesus and hates poor people, especially those who are sick. Despite the fact that most of those people and black or Hispanic, she declares herself no racist.
There are some comical religious exchanges here and there.
It is not one of Williamson’s best plays; there is a lot of political soap-boxing and too many epilogues, but it has its moment with plenty of barbed lines and laughs, especially in the second act.
The play, like many Williamson works, has many different locations and scene changes and they can prove difficult, I know I directed Brilliant Lies and had a nightmare trying to get all the locations on one stage,
Director Gary O’Neil decided against a set at all.
There was a basic backdrop of Sydney Harbour and a box centre stage. This was a great idea; the scenes changed swiftly and the action never slowed. Keeping up with the locations was never a problem.
The actors, back after a week break were a tad slow in getting up to speed, but when they did all was well. The characters were well cast and played by competent actors.
Brian Cannon worked hard as Alan, as he showed bursts of anger and then lapsed into total bastardry. Katie Dowling kept up a good accent as Fury and we watched her marriage unravel as Alan’s duplicity was revealed. Personally I felt they deserved each other.
John Evans and Deborah Bishop as Ian and Sue were a perfect foil for each other and created nicely believable characters while John’s son Brendan played younger brother Ben. He joined the cast three weeks from opening to take over the role from Trevor Sammon who became ill. He did a good job in unusual circumstances and worked well with Michelle Wells as Laura.
Beverley Wood, who with Brian Cannon is a regular member of Gary O’Neil casts, shone as the widow Judy. It is not an easy role, and is one that could easily slide into melodrama but Beverley handled it very nicely.
The show is deservedly playing to good houses.