In Perth as part of a national tour, David Williamson's The Club is a highly entertaining night out, even though it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. The all male cast directed by Bruce Myles work tightly together and push the limits of their stereotypical characters.
Whilst I'm too young to appreciate the turn of football from a passion to a business (the key theme of The Club) I can appreciate the general themes and relate it to other professions. The play is an effective look at change, the need for it, and the struggle against it. The fact that these are still themes today is a testament to Williamson’s ability to write about universal topics.
The set designed by Anna Borghesi is a perfectly bland 1970s club boardroom, focussing the audiences’ attention squarely on the larger than life characters. The room consists of beige walls, green carpet, fake wood panelled bar, plastic covered chairs and photos of previous players. A large window overlooking the football field (a huge photo) completes the set. The black and white pictures on the walls are used symbolically to represent the ‘good old days’, to great effect.
The cast have been on tour for a number of months and it shows in their strong delivery. John Wood as Jock, the former coach and now Vice President of the club is a loud robust character. Wood was verging on being unbelievable, but he provided most of the laughs throughout the play, and his portrayal of being stoned was hilarious
Denis Moore had the finest emotional range playing the maligned club president Ted, moving from a hand wringing nervous fidget to a raging, slightly frenzied person. Christopher Connelly as Laurie the coach was strong and convincing, whilst Guy Kable as the stoned footballer Geoff was too stupid to be believable. Danny, the easily enraged footballer was played by Christopher Parker.
It was only 15 mins before the end that I realised the true nature of Gerry the administrator (a great performance by Simon Wilton) was revealed. Wilton plays the smiling assassin perfectly, charming everyone and lying through his teeth to get exactly what he wants. His parting line where he states that even though he doesn’t like football, he is the best administrator and hence indispensable is the most powerful in the play.
The problem I have with The Club is that it lacked any characters that I could relate to, and this is perhaps its greatest failing. Regardless of the fact that I am not male, nor obsessed with football, I didn't like any of the characters, nor could see traits of people I could relate to. I therefore struggled to be enthusiastic or emotionally involved in the eventual outcome.
Williamson has long been known as a master of the Australian vernacular, and the naturalistic style capturing the ebbs and flows are always a highlight of his plays. Myles makes full use of the natural rhythms, with actors speaking over one another in heated arguments, or repeating phrases to emphasise a point.
The Club is enjoyable to watch and an entertaining night out. There are no new ideas or life shattering events, but it is solid Williamson fare and a reminder of why he has been such a prevalent playwright in Australia.
HIT Productions presents
by David Williamson
Venue: Playhouse Theatre | 3 Pier Street, Perth
Dates/Times: Wednesday 23 April – Tuesday 6 May at 7.30pm (excluding Mondays)
Matinees: Saturday 26 April & 3 May at 2.15pm; Sundays 27 April & 4 May at 5pm; Wednesday 30 April at 1.15pm
Bookings: BOCS on (08) 9484 1133