Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: The Club

David Williamson’s quintessential Australian drama, The Club, is set in the 1970s in the blokey world of a debilitated Australian Rules football club. With a six male character cast, it’s an unlikely performance choice for three female actors, yet Jude Henshall, Louisa Mignone and Ellen Steele from Adelaide’s isthisyours? theatre company have managed to pull it off hilariously. 

The action takes place in the office of a football club that has had a run of bad seasons. The opening scene features the coach, Laurie (Steele), the administrator, Gerry (Mignone), and club president, Ted (Henshall). The actors are dressed in stereotypical 70s men’s clothes and each sports a porn-star moustache. Of course, it has immediate comic impact, but thankfully, they don’t merely rely on this one obvious device, instead incorporating well-timed movements, reactions, gestures and some other comic tools in a choreography of comedy reminiscent of classic vaudeville. When a fourth character enters the scene, we are introduced to a very funny and clever device for distinguishing different characters played by the same actor: a wig attached by a bull clip to a cable suspended from the ceiling. From then on, the mere dropping down and raising of the cables is enough to raise a laugh. The actors have great rapport and play their roles knowingly tongue-in-cheek, yet with rigid precision. Henshall, in particular, is utterly riveting as Ted and also Jock, the elder, South African? (it was hard to lock down the accent) statesman of the club, balding, stiffly traditional and, as it turns out, utterly gullible.

Director, Tessa Leong, has done a terrific job of injecting an already satirical play with a self-referential irony that highlights the absurdity of this testosterone hyped, insular world. Very, very entertaining.

Until Dec 22. Downstairs, Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills. $20-$25+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.belvoir.com.au

Reviewed by Rita Bratovich

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