Our March picks for tertiary study
18 Mar 2015
John Kachoyan - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
Both of the plays this month come from Melbourne writers and both are contemplations of real-life events, though neither seek to represent them directly. Savages by Patricia Cornelius is written for four men and riffs off the Dianne Brimble case. The Joy of Text by maverick Robert Reid spins off the Helen Darville/Demidenko scandal (with a bit of Helen Garner’s The First Stone chucked in for good measure).
Savages is a fascinating piece, in that it explores the inner life of four men geared up for the trip of a lifetime and asks the question: Why do Australian men, of a certain age and a certain class, feel so powerless, thwarted and angry in the face of emotions that women inspire in them? This is in no way a documentary play and the text is structured with Cornelius’ characteristic poetic and fascinating dialogue. It is not at all naturalistic, but still manages to conjure this very particular world vividly and empathetically. Its first season at 45 Downstairs in Melbourne had audiences and critics raving at its lightness of touch and its insight, without prejudice, into a terrible and ugly truth of gender politics. It has four magnificent roles for men and is a great opportunity for directors and designers.
The Joy of Text was first presented by the Melbourne Theatre Company. It is part of our Red Door series and is a sophisticated and delicate satire that concerns the publication of The Illusion of Consent, a book (invented by Reid) that chronicles an affair between a teacher and a student, resulting in the suicide of the teacher. As The Joy of Text begins, 17-year-old Danny is awkward, precocious and on the brink of manhood. When a 30-something female teacher humiliates him in front of class he wreaks his revenge by playing out the events of the book in real life. This is a smart, sassy and elegant piece of writing which, given an equally mordant production, can equal a great night in the theatre.
Tom Healey, Literary Manager