Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bad play, brilliantly acted

Tonight we went to yet another Sydney Theatre Company production. Thankfully it is the second to last and it has been a long and somewhat mixed season.

Most of the plays have been brilliantly performed - the actors superb and their acting excellent. Unfortunately I have not enjoyed the themes of most the plays, most of them leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Granted they explored confronting and angst filled issues that make for fantastic high drama but they just did not appeal to me. I did not enjoy leaving with a feeling of distaste in my mouth and my body rejecting all of the sensory and visual inputs thrown at me.

There was infidelity, adultery, crazy, murder, incest, genocide, dysfunctional families, degenerates, hatred, envy and apathy.

There has been only one play which I enjoyed thoroughly – The Grenade. Oresteia was pretty good too, though that was a Greek tragedy – everyone died and there was mass muder, genocide and incest.

Tonight’s play – True West was awful and brilliant all at the same time.  There’s a review of the play here.

It’s about two brothers who come together in their mother’s house. One is a screenwriter (or at least attempting to be a screenwriter) and the other is an aggressive bum who hustles, steals and bullies.

The mother is away on vacation and the screenwriter son is housesitting. The brother is “visiting”.

There are hints throughout the play that their father is a degenerate alcoholic.

As the play progresses the dysfunction in the relationship between the brothers becomes more and more pronounced as each brother in their own way tries to be like the other – in their actions trying to “one up” the other, only to discover that they are not so different and they need each other after all.

There is a wildness to the play and the violence in character and action is very prominent.

The one thing that sticks out the most for me is the fact that I can stop thinking of the word “degenerate”.

Everything in the play degenerates towards its inevitable flawed, tragic end. You can see everything and everyone spiralling slowly out of control, at the same time rushing to this glorious climax of angst, frustration, jealousy and general all out crazy.

Don’t you just love the way they’ve torn apart the mother’s kitchen?

It left me feeling cranky. Not any other feeling – just cranky. It made me want to hit someone or something – preferably the actors. I’d have loved to hit them. They played their roles so well, their characters so unlikable. There was nothing sympathetic about them.

If you enjoy being put through the wringer and battered around with violence, anger, extreme sibling rivalry and frustration, yes, by all means, do go watch the play. If not, I’d suggest you try something else.

I can't wait until this year's subscription to the Sydney Theatre Company is over.

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