This play is already an Australian classic (I refuse to use the word "iconic"), and while the party is one most of us would probably not want to go to, the Play – for now – and this performance of it is the opposite.
Amateur theatre has come a long way in Adelaide since the Party of 1969, and since the play's appearance in 1972. This production is a fine example of what amateur theatre can produce and has matured to. Eleven strong actors, dealing with some very challenging roles, directed by the seasoned Megan Dansie, on an accurately dated set by Ole Wiebkin with some awfully sixties costumes and some slick and authentic interaction produces an excellent night at the theatre.
The play is not only a classic – albeit a short-lived one, but as such it is a vignette of a turbulent period in the history of Australian suburbia and middle class angst. It still holds relevance to some aspects of those phenomena still extant in our society, but much of its nuances will be lost on generations who were not part of it in the 60's and 70's (or can't remember them, because they were!). So the play will have a limited life, and therefore the Rep is to be applauded for producing it now.
Paul Rodda is outstanding as the frustrated, trapped Mal, handling the difficult challenge of getting drunk on stage realistically and with considerable talent. Ben Crisp as the crass, womanising Cooley is also ideal. Steve Marvanek hosts the party with an appropriately resigned, frustrated air, nicely grasping at straws for some excitement in the face of his frumpy boring "bourgeois, 'Home-Beautiful', 'let me fail in peace' wife, played convincingly and unglamourously by Georgia Stockham.
They are ably supported by Thorin Cupit as an appealing Mack, Jamie Wright as the justifiably furious Evan, Anthony Vawser as the stray movie buff Liberal voter, together with Sarah Agius, Celeste Aldahn, Claire Glenn and Jaye Gordon as the varied but equally disillusioned women.
Generally this is a very pleasing and well cast production. Apart from a few lines sounding as though they were being read, and a fairly unconvincing seduction scene, it competently encapsulated this inane, and rather unfulfilled, dumb, drunk and sexist group, struggling to find meaning in an era of new freedom, expectation and experimentation in Australian history. Even if the play is becoming dated, with the help of some of Williamson's greatest lines, Megan Dansie and her cast give the audience some great laughs and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Adelaide Repertory Theatre presents
by David Williamson
Director Megan Dansie
Venue: The Arts Theatre, 53 Angas St, Adelaide
Dates: 21 – 30 June, 2012
Times: 8pm. Matinee Saturday 30 June at 2pm
Tickets: Adults $20, Concession $15, Students $10