The lights go down. The cicadas scream. The lights come up and we wait for the play to begin. Later, in the second act stricken by logorreah, we can’t wait for the play to end.
A gun is introduced in the beginning and true to Chekov’s dictum, it is fired at the end of a prolonged prologue. It’s a silent scene in direct contrast to the deluge of verbiage that inundates the next two hours. It introduces us to Justin, a factotum of a Catholic college in Wyoming and an anti Marxist marksman.
His backyard becomes a meeting place of a trio of ex students come to celebrate the election of a venerable teacher, Gina, to the post of president of the school.
Two of the students have gone to live elsewhere, Kevin to Oklahoma and Teresa to New York, while Emily, Gina’s daughter, has gone away and returned. Emily suffers from a debilitating physical malaise and an emphatic empathy for liberal minded people, an anathema to her mother and her cohorts.
Catholicism has coded Kevin as a guilt edged coattail eunuch, a chronic masturbator and monastic candidate.
The strongest of the three, Teresa, is an arch conservative with nil compassion for anyone who has opposing views. She sees Planned Parenthood akin to the Nazis, abortion as genocide, a holocaust visited upon the unborn. She’s the one who espouses the book the title of play emerges from, The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny by William Strauss and Neil Howe.
Will Arbery’s script stalks the perimeter of the preachy, an insurmountable sermon with the backyard porch becoming a pulpit to pontificate about a religion of outright psychopathic egocentricity, latter day mystics and self slaughtered saints. A flood of words inundates the plain of speaking, the play’s intellectual content becomes dreary cant, rhetoric laid on with a trowel, polemic piled on.
These are not heroes, they are zealots, susceptible to outlandish prophecy. Speaking of which, what’s with the eldritch cacophony, is it bible thumping, or something satanic. Poor Emily sure gets poised for possession as she spews forth a monologue with no expletive deleted to rival Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist.
Jeremy Waters as Justin, exudes a quiet mystique, coiled for the coming catastrophe and struggling to keep his libido on a leash.
Micaela Ellis plays Emily as fragile, vulnerable, her faith under threat by the unfairness of her ailment and the unfairness of her faith, a narrow church rather than the broad one she advocates.
Eddie Orton as Kevin is superbly dazed and confused, a pinball of raging hormones, a benign incel bringing an incendiary energy to the character and play as a whole.
Madeleine Jones as Teresa is exuberant in an unabated appetite for grandeur, a proneness to pretentiousness, and a Creed is Good mantra.
Kate Raison as Gina, brings a poised gravitas to the patrician catechist, proudly boasting the scars of six C sections in the bearing the fruit of her blessed womb.
The people of Heroes of the Fourth Turning are not heroes, they are zealots to a religion of outright psychopathic egocentricity, latter day mystics and self slaughtered saints, susceptible to outlandish prophecy.
Outhouse Theatre Co and Seymour Centre present
Heroes of the Fourth Turning
by Will Arbery
Director Craig Baldwin
Venue: Seymour Centre | Corner City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale NSW
Dates: 31 March – 23 April 2022
Tickets: $49 – $35