Left – Josh McConville and Anna Samson. Cover – Josh McConville, Ben O’Toole and Anna Samson. Photos – Jeff Busby
Football. Love it or hate it, if you're Australian, the game where (predominately) men run around a field and kick, grab and throw an oddly shaped ball for 90 minutes has infiltrated your life in some manner. In Victoria, where Aussie Rules, well… rules, come September the game is everywhere in the media. From inappropriate behavior and costumes from players on Mad Monday (a free for all to celebrate the end of the season before the finals) to constant updates on the health and fitness of the players in the upcoming all-important final matches, it is difficult to escape the frenzy that surrounds the AFL.
I can only image this frenzy extends up North and to other areas of the country when it comes to the mind-boggling complexities of both Rugby League and Union.
All three forms of football are fraught with scandal and given the timing of Brendan Cowell’s new work, The Sublime, the play is a topical piece of theatre that delves into the wildly controversial world of football players and the “hero-status” they are allowed.
Set in modern Melbourne, The Sublime focuses on the relationship between two professional football players and brothers Dean (Josh McConville) and Liam (Ben O’Toole) who gleefully recount their foray into the different divisions of football. A chance meeting with an up-and-coming Olympic runner Amber (Anna Samson) and the boys world is thrown into turmoil when schoolgirl Amber joins them on an end of year trip to Thailand and the ugly side of football is exposed.
The characters are well written and expertly performed by the cast but at times completely despicable and unlikeable. They have few redeeming qualities and their selfishness is ultimately their downfall and yet the story itself remains completely gripping. As if it was ripped straight from today’s headlines, The Sublime is an honest portrayal of the sensational nature of sports figures in the community and the immunity they are afforded due to their ability to kick a ball around a field.
A new work that while at times is disturbing has remarkable moments of humour. A credit to the spot on performances of the actors, who were unafraid to make the audience dislike them, The Sublime is a scarily accurate account of the modern football leagues and the power social media has in blasting open the once secret goings-on and dirty dealings for all the world to see.
Melbourne Theatre Company presents
by Brendan Cowell
Director Sam Strong
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio
Dates: 22 August – 4 October, 2014
Tickets: from $60; under 30s $33
Bookings: 03 8688 0800 | mtc.com.au