Left – (l-r) Jay Walsh, Alinta Carroll, Edgar Metcalfe and Corinne Davies
Perth played host to a landmark event in Australian theatre on Saturday night with the World Premiere of David Williamson’s freshly penned play When Dad Married Fury. With the award winning playwright in the audience and the theatre’s namesake (veteran actor, director and writer Edgar Metcalfe) taking centre stage, the Metcalfe Playhouse was officially opened.
Artistic Director of the Metcalfe Playhouse, John Senczuk describes it as the new “bijou theatre experience”. The 280 seat theatre on Lake St in Northbridge was once the IMAX movie theatre so we can enjoy the legacy of comfortable seats and drink holders. Over the past 6 months, the empty room at the Empyrean Centre was transformed to a working theatre that will host 9 plays and musicals before the end of the year.
When Dad Married Fury follows the provocative, and brashly Australian, Williamson style. 2011 marks the 40 year anniversary of the stage debut of his first play The Removalists. The iconic dramatist has gone on to produce plays that are read, studied and performed widely across Australia and internationally, finding engagement with audiences through topics of religion, politics and sexuality. Williamson has found no need to shy away from controversial opinions and his characters often embrace broad opinions designed for argument and discussion. When Dad Married Fury follows this pattern, with each character having their own platform.
Williamson says that the inspiration for this play came when he attended a function where a man approaching seventy turned up with a new American bride half his age. After witnessing some interactions that evening, Williamson saw the basis of a dramatic situation and built the play around similar characters and their families.
The central character, Alan (Edgar Metcalfe) plays a shrewd businessman who made his millions by employing morally questionable but technically legal tactics on the stock market. His young bride Fury (Corinne Davies) who is first portrayed as a money grabbing beauty queen, has perhaps the most interesting and amusing journey throughout the play. Alan’s two sons, Ian (Richard Mellick) and Ben (Jay Walsh), along with their wives Sue and Laura (Alison van Reeken and Alinta Carroll) each want their fair share of the fortune when the old man kicks the bucket, albeit for vastly different purposes. Rounding out the cast is Ben and Laura’s gay daughter Adele (Lauren Lloyd Williams) and her girlfriend Sonya (Casey Edwards). The quietly manipulative Sonya, whose parents lost everything they owned by trusting Alan, plays an integral role in the climax of the play and joins with Fury in restoring moral order.
Williamson uses his extremist characters, like the fundamentally christian Fury to generate controversial dialogue. The clashes between family members, partners and friends have proved to be a winning formula for the successful playwright and When Dad Married Fury is no exception. The experienced and talented cast did a tremendous job with the new script, and the inclusion of local references garnered some knowing titters from the crowd.
The production team under the direction and design of John Senczuk included Trent Suidgeest (lighting) and Penny Mazzuchelli (costumes). Senczuk credits the pair as being integral colleagues in the support network for establishing the new venue and they created, as always, a simple and multipurpose set that moved quickly from state to state, establishing the various changes in scene.
Congratulations to Janus Entertainment, the impeccable staff at the Empyrean Centre, the cast, crew and all involved in the launch of the Metcalfe Playhouse. In a city which is crying out for venues suitable to small professional production companies, this truly is an important venture to support the Arts in WA as well as nurture local talent, giving them an opportunity to learn, develop and exhibit themselves locally.
When Dad Married Fury
by David Williamson
Director John Senczuk
Venue: Metcalfe Playhouse | 12 Lake Street, Northbridge
Dates: 23 July – 21 August, 2011
Bookings: 228 1455 | www.empyrean.net.au