David Williamson’s latest is full of recognisable Williamson types: venal, grasping inner-city conservatives, as well as a couple of good lefties who get all the zingers.
Two brothers, Ian and Ben (David JamesandDrew Tingwell) fly in to Sydney for their father’s 75th, and an impromptu crisis meeting is held at the airport. Their father, Alan (Denis Moore, who also directs) has married an American, Fury (Annie Last), who’s half his age. Not only has Fury inveigled her way into their father’s affections, but she’s managed to convince him that signing a pre-nup would be somehow unromantic. Ben and Ian are terrified that their inheritance – they estimate the old man’s worth around one hundred million – is about to take an almighty hit. Complicating things further is the fact that Ben’s wife, Laura, blames her father-in-law for the suicide of her own father, who invested everything he had in one of Alan’s investment schemes, which went belly up when the GFC hit.
Moore’s production is first class; the economical set puts the focus on the actors, and they deserve it. Moore, as the patriarch, is particularly memorable; flinty and unapologetic. With his sleeveless V- neck jumper and brylcreemed hair, Moore captures the Queensland-academic-from-the-‘60s look to a tee.
Watching a Williamson play is often like eavesdropping on a middle-class dinner party, only broader than life. It’s a testament to the cast that their characters don’t feel like pure caricature, with the possible exception of Fury– an evolution denying member ofthe Tea Party–but she turns out to have a good heart, and it’s the transparency of this don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover arc that makes it feel so hollow, and Fury such a cipher. She constitutes a neat opportunity for some gags about God and Americans, and that’s it. Still, the audience I was with was rolling in the aisles.
Some of the play’s best lines are terrible sops to its audience, but they certainly land. I’d love to see this play with a house full of LNP members.