Photos – Les Zetlein
Thanks to fine performances from the entire cast, St. Jude’s version of Soulmates largely strikes the deceptively difficult balance between satire, spiteful revenge and comedy. From start to almost finish, the play, directed by Mary-Jane Minear from a tremendous script by David Williamson, maintains a sophisticated level of oral invention.
With its acerbic humour and eradication of the literary facade surrounding writers, their work and the readers who adore them, this post 9/11 and malicious examination of the publishing world is archetypal Williamson. He’s at his best with caustic quips, contemporary societal observations, and the bittersweet examinations of the human condition, and it’s all here in this marvellous production.
This hefty satire is a lot more fun than many other renditions thanks to the timing and chemistry of its cast. In their respective roles, Debbie Walsh (Heather) and Brian Knott (Danny) are comprehensive as a literary critic and the wife that supports him. But, Joanne St Clair (Katie Best) steals the show as an obsessive writer who seeks revenge on Danny due to his disdainful review of her work.
Katie Best is a rich and successful popular author who is living in New York City. She’s an expatriate Australian who is peeved after reading a critique of her latest novel in The Age newspaper. Danny O’loughlin’s disparaging review is enough to send Best on a mission of revenge. She will stop at nothing, including persuading Daddy’s wife, Heather to have an affair with her favourite writer Max Van Niekerk (Andrew Horwood).
Part of the plot’s strength is that the audience in complicit in the drama, and the comedy is effective as it attacks prejudices, stereotypes, elitism, and artistic pretension.
Much is also owed to the ensemble’s rhythm and tone as they interpret Williamson’s barbed dialogue in a more composed manner than usual. The plush set works like a charm on its revolve; which allows speedy scene changes from New York to Melbourne and other places. This also ensures for a steady pace, and the actors can stay focussed and control their characters with assured direction and purpose.
Overall, Soulmates is a biting tale, by one of Australia’s most acclaimed playwrights, that’s well-worth the entrance fee.
St. Jude’s Players presents
by David Williamson
Directed by Mary-Jane Minear
Venue: St. Jude’s Hall | 444 Brighton Rd, Brighton SA
Dates: 12 – 21 November 2015