Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Removalists

The Gold Coast Little Theatre

Saturday 29th March, 2014


In typical David Williamson style, The Removalists is confronting, amusing, insightful, dramatic and completely lacking of an ending … but who really cares?

Opening last Friday evening at The Gold Coast Little Theatre in Southport, this classic piece of Australian writing is a look back at a time in the 1970s, when calling the police to attend a domestic dispute might simply result in even more violence.

Jack Henry & Patrick Monteath
 Directed by newcomer Patrick Monteath, The Removalists moves along at a nice pace … until the furniture has all gone, then it seems to stall for a while. However there is a very real, sometimes bordering on uncomfortable, sense of drama and pathos to this play and Mr Monteath has worked his cast well so as nobody is left on stage without action or purpose at any time. I lost count of how many cups of tea the removalist (Bruce Alkner Jr.) made … it was a nice character trait, it was great action and, well, it was funny.

Another pleasant piece of action was the scene change in Act I in which we are literally transported from the police station to the apartment by means of a cheeky driver, a clever set design and a well-choreographed stage crew. The set was designed by the director (with the assistance of Darren Campbell and Michael Sutton). While the concept, as I have mentioned, is clever, the finishing lets it down a little … it’s all just too clean and “freshly painted”. However, it’s a very well thought-out stage - the final moment is a particularly clever one and again, nicely played by the man in the overalls, Bruce Alker Jr.

Jack Henry plays the pivotal role; the old school Sargent Dan Simmonds and the director steps into uniform as his new recruit, Constable Ross. I liked the relationship these two developed throughout the play – their diametrically opposed characters were quickly established and never waned. GCLT regular Kate McNair is totally believable as the concerned, pearl-wearing big sister and Fiona Carter plays the abused wife, Candice, with a really endearing innocence and a thoroughly believable fear. 
Sean Curran & Fiona Carter

In the white singlet, VB in hand, is Sean Curran. As always, Mr Curran brings a superb energy to the stage and really seems to absorb himself in his tortured, self-destructive character.

I’ve said this often in the past: combining the roles of actor & director on stage almost never works. However I understand that there were casting problems that all but forced the director to assume a main role late in the production process (and, despite the pressures, he played it very well) so I’m not going to dump on him for stepping up to the plate. That act in itself displays a respect for his cast and a desire to protect the show. Although I really feel that, had he have been in a position to sit out front a little more frequently, he’d have afforded himself a greater opportunity to tune the dynamics of each (very strong) performance a little more finely and that may have been beneficial. None-the-less, if you can deal with strong themes of domestic violence, this is a quality drama with just enough laughs to leave us feeling emotionally exhausted but not ruined.