Fifty years on, David Williamson’s The Removalists still packs a packing case full of punch.
Fifty years ago, The Female Eunuch was published, and its author, Germaine Greer, said “The tragedy of machismo is that a man is never quite man enough.”
Fifty years ago, these two Australian writers were part of the zeitgeist.
Johann Walraven’s current production of The Removalists at New Theatre shows that Zeitgeist is a continuum.
The behaviour of the men is misogynous. The behaviour of men in authority menacing. The Removalists is as relevant today as it was then.
Laurence Coy as the veteran copper, Simmonds, oozes creepy unctuousness. Simmonds is the kind of copper who adheres to to the old police force adage “never arrest a wife basher if his missus is still warm.” Coy’s delivery gives it the gravitas of Gospel.
Llloyd Allison-Young as the probationary constable, Ross, is gangling callowness on a stick, a fellow with short fused fury lying fallow. His playing of a flat foot plod fizzes with physical comedy that belies the conflict and contrast of the eruption of devastating, unexpected violence.
Alfie Gledhill blazes as Kenny, the wife basher who calls his spousal abuse “love pats”. He boasts the charisma of most chauvinists and embodies the errant, oafish arrogance of male entitlement.
Eliza Nichols as Fiona, Kenny’s abused spouse, and Shannon Ryan as Fiona’s sister Kate, give depth to characters that could easily be reduced to mere catalysts, soaring well above the stereotypical.
Xavier Coy as The Removalist is deliciously laconic, a lay-back larrikin who needs to remind all and sundry that he’s got thousands of dollars tickin’ away outside and that no matter the human tragedy unfolding, time is money.
From his earliest days as a playwright, David Williamson has loved to put people in the same room who are obliged to be together, but shouldn’t be together, and don’t want to be together. Humans being humans, this inevitably results in drama and comedy.
Because we’ve laughed so much can we not call The Removalists a tragedy? With the twin topics of toxic misogyny and deaths in custody I think we can.
New Theatre presents
by David Williamson
Director Johann Walraven
Venue: New Theatre | 542 King Street, Newtown NSW
Dates: 20 April - 22 May 2021
Tickets: $35 – $30