To err is human, to forgive is divine. And in between is the perfect act of contrition.

As the song says, Sorry seems to be the hardest word, not just for individuals but for governments, organisations, and institutions.

In The Apologists, three women explore perspective and efficacy of apology, from the depth of its liberating power to the shallowness of its lapse into lip service.

The trio of monologues begins with Excuses by Iskandar Sharazuddin. It takes the form of an official, public apology by the head of the National Health Service, who has made an unwitting racial slur against a doctor. As she faces a persistent and pervasive press barrage under a blitzkrieg of flash photography, she shares an inner monologue about the pressures and circumstances that landed her in this predicament.

There is a genuine contrition about the incident, but it is in conflict with the fallout of her political career, weighing up whether public apology is admission to failure which could prove fatal for her career, a career that comes at the cost of her personal life, especially the relationship with her young daughter, which becomes the catalyst for her public apology.

The second piece, Seven, The Sweetest Hour by Cordelia O’Neill focuses on Holly, a journalist and influencer, whose publication of scathing reviews has devastating and deadly consequences. It is a sobering reminder of the responsibility of people who review or critique do so constructively and not succumb to cruelty and individual ridicule.

The trilogy concludes with New Universe by Lucinda Burnett, a searing and coruscating narrative on the catastrophic failure of duty of care by an international aid organisation. The woman tells of how a colleague, the head of security, raped her, and that her attacker had merely been moved to another field of operation, where his predatory behaviour was perpetrated against those the organisation was there to protect.

The three women are all portrayed by Gabrielle Scawthorn in finely drawn, detailed and well defined performances. She creates with distinction, three distinct women grappling with the myriad facets of mea culpa.

The Apologists presents scenarios that simultaneously leave one speechless and fuels conversation. Here are three perfect acts of contrition, beautifully written and powerfully staged.

Event details

Unlikely Productions presents
The Apologists
by Iskandar Sharazuddin, Cordelia O’Neill & Lucinda Burnett

Director Jane Moriarty

Venue: Venue 505 | Level 1, 5 Eliza Street, Newtonwn
Dates: 20 – 31 January 2021
Tickets: $40


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