Left - Ivy Mak & Kenneth Ransom. Cover - Ben Ager & Kenneth Ransom. Photos - Steve Lunam
Capital punishment in Australia saw Ronald Ryan ‘hanged by the neck until he was dead’ in 1967 – the last prisoner to receive the death penalty in Australia.
Death row is still a reality in 34 US states and where Stephen Belber’s character, Darius McReele, finds himself at the start of the play. Can he rise from the lowest ranking in the US social structure to president in this two-hour play?
Fast-talking, absolute confidence, clear convictions and poignantly timed – McReele strikes at the Ensemble Theatre as the United States Presidential elections start to heat up. In both McReele and reality we may see, for the first time, a break from the white male norm as a future leader.
Gifted with wit and intelligence, Stephen Belber writes a frighteningly charismatic character in Darius McReele. On his podium, his populist confidence carves a way to convince his audience and voters of, sometimes, unusual and oversimplified social solutions. He grows to become loved by many but instinctively lures women and men to ultimately use them as pawns in his trajectory of “good intentions”.
This familiar tale of the American path to political success has had Australians fascinated for decades as entertainers like Ronald Regan and Arnold Swartzenegar are escalated to figurehead of their country or state.
McReele is a story of trust and manipulation in US politics but resonates with Australians as the impact of North American politics is ever increasing on our nation.
Successfully seductive, Kenneth Ransom surges with power in the role of McReele as he craftily blurs the line between honesty and “disingenuity”. Pamela Jikiemi’s hyper-honest Opal – McReele’s wife – puts refreshing perspective on her husband’s dabblings, while Ivy Mak plays an upbeat, effervescent Katya.
Belber’s airtight story – that seems possible only in America – draws Australian in so they can look on in bemusement, wonder or admiration. With laws such as capital punishment that seem from another era, McReele presents an America where the self-made man can climb above his compatriots to achieve freedom, but at what cost?
Ensemble Theatre presents
By Stephen Belber
Venue: Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli, NSW, 2061
Dates: Fri July 11 to Sat 16 August
Performances: Tues – Fri 8.15pm, Sat 5pm & 8.30pm, Sun 5pm, Thurs 11am
Prices: $38 - $62 (booking charges may apply)
Bookings: 02 9929 0644 or www.ensemble.com.au