Smithing molten words fresh from the furnace of religion, sex and politics over an anvil of zeitgeist, David Ireland’s Ulster American hammers us with humour, hubris and hypocrisy. Ribald, dauntless and spoiling for a fight, Ireland bombards us with an articulate artillery shelling us from three positions and all on target.
Picture this. An American male movie star, an Oscar winner, no less, has been lured to London to star in a West End play written by a promising young Irish female playwright and directed by an established male English theatre director.
As they await the arrival of the writer, the first half of the play has the two men in discussion about the drama they are to create on stage before it segues into a shocking repartee about rape.
By introducing this bombshell, the American actor declares his dominance over the director in an appalling show of toxic Alpha maleness. Feigning great feeling for the play and a hunger for creative collaboration, the recovering alcoholic A-lister shows what an A-grade A-hole he is, a hole made a whole lot deeper with the arrival of the writer.
Initially flattering her with praise for her play and promising meetings with Quentin Tarantino, the actor soon starts coercing changes to the script, fundamentally pillaging the play.
The writer refuses, stands her ground, and the argument intensifies when she learns of the conversation between the two men prior to her arrival. Wielding the sword of social media with a trigger finger on her Twitter account, threats and stand-offs escalate to a tumultuous denouement.
Shane Anthony’s production is as sharp as shrapnel. The pacing and placing letting every shock land with a laugh or a gasp, and ripple, radiating a rage tempered with ironic awe.
Performances are first rate – Jeremy Waters posturing the arrogant swagger of the entitled movie star, Brian Meegan exuding controlled fluster as the placating director, and Harriet Gordon-Anderson firing as the feisty anti Fenian pro Brexit playwright.
Veronique Benett’s set brilliantly behoves Bohemian chic, absolutely the abode of a high end helmer, a tatty art flat with distressed walls and furniture.
Funny, frightening and fulsome, Ulster American is a must see.
Outhouse Theatre Co and Seymour Centre present
by David Ireland
Director Shane Anthony
Venue: Seymour Centre, Corner City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale NSW
Dates: 13 – 29 May 2021
Tickets: $49 – $35
Darlington, New South Wales.