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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Loot & STC's 2011, dissected by me.

Oh dear. Clunkety clunk clunk. The first half of STC’s production of Orton’s ‘Loot’ has the pace of a Cliffy Young shuffle in what needs to be a Usain Bolt sprint.

Partly the problems with this play are due to some of the dated shock value. There was a time it relied on the 1960’s conservative backlash & outrage at the issues of promiscuity, homosexuality, police corruption with a bit of murder on the side. Now, well, it’s the bread and butter of Channel 9 programming so it’s hard to be indignant. In fact, if it doesn’t come with a lot of titty action, it feels decidedly old fashioned.

The other big issue in this play is Caroline Craig. I hate to say it but she was like the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. Complete lack of commitment to role, inability to capture the rhythm of the play and looked bored, reflecting my own expression, for the entire show. Craig was a mincing piece of dialogue in a funny accent, devoid of character or energy. And given she has to drive the first half, the whole play stalled, much to the dismay of a fine cast as those boys did their best to compensate for her efforts.

The second half picked up a bit as McConville, Zappa, Gilshenan & Jones took a bigger role in the play’s denouement. But it was no surprise to hear the audience bemoan a lack of engagement in the action of the play, especially as the play was so reliant on physical humour, timing and wit.

This play is symptomatic of STC’s entire programming this year. One big yawnsville. And I can’t even blame Andrew Upton’s direction. I’m still getting therapy from last year’s ‘Long Day’s Journey Into the Night That Never Bloody Ends’.

So let’s do a year in review of the boring turn out of STC’s year…

’In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play’ quite a promising start. Strong female cast and good writing.

‘Zebra’- Bryan Brown turned this play into a wooden casket, threw it into the fire and cremated any promise it ever had. Possibly the gong for the worst acting I have seen so far this year.  It didn’t matter who else was in the show- you can’t act against a tree.

‘Baal’- well, you’ve read my review. Pretentious piece of pooh.

‘Terminus’. Imported from overseas. Thank God.

‘The White Guard’. Who cares?

‘Edward Gant’. Missed everything to draw the pieces together and make this play work.

‘Blood Wedding’- suicided in the second half.

‘Threepenny Opera’. Actually heard this was good and Perfect was perfect & when Capsis hit his stride, also great.  Sorry I missed it.

‘Bloodland’, ‘No Man’s Land’ & ‘Gross and Klein’ yet to hit the stage but let me pre-empt my feelings on a couple of those. If I see John Gaden and Peter Carroll in one more show, I’m going to hurt someone. So to put them both together is double the torture. I will pluck out my eyes and throw one at each of them if I am trapped watching that show. And I so wanted to see Pinter’s play but you couldn’t pay me to do that to myself.

As for ‘Gross & Klein’, I was looking forward to it too…and then they appoint Benedict Andrews as director when Luc Bundy dropped out. BYO neon lights and incongruous German references in an Australian context. Don’t forget to take your BATSHIT bingo cards, available online soon. I’m hoping as he wasn’t able to import his creative team and cast the play that it might survive the BATSHIT experience. We’ll see…

So if ‘Loot’ is still showing when this review goes up, don’t bother. Go and see what’s showing at Griffin instead. You’ll pay half as much and get twice as much engagement.


  1. Hello Jane, I am loving this blog. I think it is making a very important and very valuable point. Don't know whether you'd be interested but I would like to write a piece about it and the issues you're raising. Any chance of some "off piste" conversation? SC

  2. I disagree about the Vibrator Play, which I thought brought out the worst in the audience by going for cheap laughs. Baal was almost hilarious in its frantic desire to shock an audience that couldn't care less. The White Guard was obviously a totally different play from the one that was staged in London using the same translation. The Sydney version trivialised everything, played it all for laughs, and the cast felt as if they were each in a private space into which no other actor could intrude. Reading reviews of the London production I could have wept at the lost opportunity here. Gross und Klein was a big night for Cate, not such a big night for the audience. At least there was no guitar feedback.