Monday, 30 March 2015
EPICENTRE THEATRE COMPANY'S 'THE REMOVALISTS' dissected by Lauren
I've never been a huge fan of Williamson's text. I often find myself questioning why this play, in particular, is staged so often. I understand the play's themes of masculinity & violence, domestic violence, and corruption of those in power are more relevant today than ever, but it's the way in which Williamson's play treats these themes that makes it problematic: it trivialises them, turning them into something to laugh at which, given the current political and social climate, seems counter-intuitive and a little regressive.It is probably its inclusion in the school curriculum that gives it such a good workout but I wouldn't mind seeing it rested for a while.
There was an attempt to modernise the piece by updating the scenery (adding an apple macbook, printer and digital camera to the police station set) and costumes but, if the text is left unedited, certain phrases become anachronistic in this 21st century setting. 'The Removalists' does read like a period piece, firmly entrenched in the 70's and updating it can feel contrived.
Despite this, I thought this was a production made up of strong technical elements. The moments of comedy I enjoyed most arose via the juxtaposition of representative masculine hegemonies in the forms of the tough talking, punch throwing sergeant Simmonds; the sensitive, young constable Ross and; the witty, macho ape-man, Kenny Carter. It is mostly fun to watch them staking out their territories (and their women). Some might argue that Simmonds seemed too old in this production and so the sense of menace might not read as strongly.
There was some nice acting on display, which I was glad for. Although I must say, I did have to suspend a bit of belief with both female characters, they just read a little young - particularly Kate. Don't get me wrong though, it was forgivable as both actors were a pleasure to watch. The arrival of the removalist character was a strange experience. It was overacted and there was some upstaging happening which took away from the scene, although at least it kept the younger audience engaged.
Despite my earlier protesting of Williamson's text, this is a well-put-together production. It's nicely paced, the space has been well considered and so the blocking feels rather logical and unforced.
The ensemble have worked hard and produced something pretty solid.