David Williamson’s The Removalists (1971) is a milestone in Australian drama, an over-the-top portrayal of toxic masculinity, police corruption engendering violence and the sly collusion women endured throughout. Not quite a tragedy, not quite a comedy, the play, on now at the New Theatre, straddles something between the two.
Kenny (Alfie Gledhill) is a volatile larrikin who has punched his wife Fiona (Eliza Nicholls) one too many times. With the aid of her sister (Shannon Ryan), she goes to the local police station and it’s a topsy-turvy mess thereafter. Long-serving Sergeant Dan Simmonds (Laurence Coy) and freshly graduated Constable Neville Ross (Lloyd Allison-Young) open the show, Simmonds a virulently complacent insect to Ross’ pupa. Both are well cast, as are the others, though Allison-Young could do with a bit more simmer. Rob, the removalist, (Xavier Coy), offers welcome and well-timed comic relief as he attempts to do his job whilst confrontation unfolds in the couple’s apartment.
This staging of The Removalists is just okay. There is a lack of attention to simple details that distract from the overall effect and the direction (Johann Walraven) is sometimes clumsy (Kenny making a point of demanding a bottle opener for his beer and in a later scene the same beer is twist-off; minor, but distracting, as is some of the blocking). Still, at a sharp intermission-free 90 minutes or so, time doesn’t lag and it’s a worthwhile exposure to new talent and Australian theatre history.
Until May 22. New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown. $22-$35+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.newtheatre.org.au
Reviewed by Olga Azar