Saturday, November 30, 2019

Baby Doll

Baby Doll, adapted for the stage by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann from the 1956 film by Tennesee Williams and Elia Kazan.  Ensemble Theatre at Kirribilli, Sydney, October 18 – November 16, 2019.

Commentary/Review by Frank McKone

Director – Shaun Rennie; Lighting Designer – Verity Hampson; Set & Costume Designer – Anna Tregloan; Composer & Sound Designer – Nate Edmondson

Baby Doll – Kate Cheel        Aunt Rose Comfort – Maggie Dence
Silva Vacarro – Socratis Otto        Archie Lee Meighan – Jamie Oxenbold

Photos by Prudence Upton

Kate Cheel and Jamie Oxenbold
as Baby Doll and Archie Lee
Set design for Baby Doll
Kate Cheel as Baby Doll

Tennessee Williams called the original stage play of the story of Baby Doll (Flora) being raped by the manager of a syndicate cotton gin (Silva Vicarro) because Flora’s husband  (Jake) had set fire to it and destroyed the competition to Jake’s own gin – a comedy.  This was 27 Wagons Full of Cotton

Scene: The front porch of [Jake’s and Flora’s] cottage near Blue Mountain, Mississippi. 
The porch is narrow and rises into a single narrow gable.
There are spindling white pillars on either side supporting the porch roof and a door of Gothic design and two Gothic windows on either side of it. 
The peaked door has an oval of richly stained glass, azure, crimson, emerald and gold. 
At the windows are fluffy white curtains gathered coquettishly in the middle by baby-blue satin bows. The effect is not unlike a doll’s house.

Jake is a “fat man of sixty”.  Flora is not described, except that she has a “huge bosom”.  Here’s a little excerpt of dialogue:
Jake: Everything you said [about them both being at home when the fire exploded] is awright. But don't you get ideas.
Flora: Ideas?
Jake: A woman like you's not made to have ideas. Made to be hugged an' squeezed!
Flora ( babyishly ): Mmmm. . . .

Satirical comedy?  But there is no doubt about the rape:

Flora: Don't follow. Please don't follow! ( She sways uncertainly.
He presses his hand against her. She moves inside. He follows. 
The door is shut quietly. The gin pumps slowly and steadily across the road.
From inside the house there is a wild and despairing cry. A door is slammed . 
The cry is repeated more faintly.)

In the next scene: After a moment the screen door is pushed slowly open and Flora
emerges gradually. Her appearance is ravaged. Her eyes have a vacant limpidity in the moonlight, her lips are slightly apart.  She moves with her hands stretched gropingly before her till she has reached a pillar of the porch . There she stops and stands moaning a little. Her hair hangs loose and disordered. The upper part of her body is unclothed except for, a torn pink band about her breasts. Dark streaks are visible on the bare shoulders and arms and there is a large discoloration along one cheek. A dark trickle, now congealed, descends from one corner of her mouth. These more apparent tokens she covers with one hand when Jake comes up on the porch. He is now near approaching, singing to himself.

It seems to me La Commedia e Finita.

In the 1956 movie, the emphasis is on Carroll Baker being made a star by Elia Kazan, (as he had done for Marlon Brando in Street Car Named Desire).  Two elements of the movie were different from the original play, which I think ultimately altered the effect of this further adaptation back to the stage.

First is a minor point.  The story of Aunt Rose in the movie was no more than a bit of human interest on the sidelines of the central story of industrial arson and rape as revenge.  In an earlier play than 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, called The Long Stay Cut Short, or The Unsatisfactory Supper, Archie Lee (aka Jake) reminds his wife, Baby Doll, that Aunt Rose has overstayed her welcome in their home.  Under pressure to go, when a tornado rages, Aunt Rose will not go inside, and is carried away in a mighty gust of wind. 

In this stage adaptation, the role becomes more a distraction than a light relief.  The director, Shaun Rennie, may have seen Aunt Rose in a Greek chorus role as commentator or reflector on the action, I guess, but her entrances and exits are intrusive rather than illuminating.  That’s no reflection on Maggie Dence’s performance, of course, but a weakness in the scriptwriting.

The second development in the movie, though, is much more significant.  The characterisation of Baby Doll – I think for the titillation of blockbuster movie audiences – became a conflicting mix of childish naivety with knowing seductiveness.  If she had sex with Silva Cavarro in the child’s crib (all that’s available for him to sleep in), under his manipulative pressure, though it might still have been rape, it was nothing like the violence of the original story.  In fact, on stage, with the crib entirely off-stage (while in the movie we see the scene where she settles Cavarro in to sleep), we are even less certain that a rape actually took place.

Yet, as in the movie, we did see on stage a Baby Doll, in Kate Cheel’s excellent characterisation, who takes on her husband against his attitude in:
Flora: Ideas?
Jake: A woman like you's not made to have ideas.

The tension arising from the other new element in the movie – the agreement with Baby Doll’s father that Archie Lee would have to wait until she turned 20 to consummate the marriage – certainly raised the emotional state on film (especially with the extended reference to tomorrow being the day) and made its point on stage.

In the end, though, I suspect that to have played the original 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, because of its apparent comedy turning into tragic violence, would have made the main point of Tennessee Williams’ work more telling than either the film or its re-adaptation to stage.  Not only did it reveal bluntly the men’s attitudes to women as victims of sexual predation; it also more simply and clearly exposed the worst aspects of capitalist competition.

To this extent, the stage adaptation was better than the film:  Because on stage the setting and acting cannot appear to be ordinary naturalism, a degree of distance is established for the theme to take its place: that the exposé of red-neck Mississippi shows, as Karl Marx explained, how the economics of competition has consquences in human social behaviour. 

Tennessee Williams understood this, as we see in his other work on stage, especially in The Glass Menagerie (1944) where he used written signs above the stage for each scene to gain a similar effect to the alienation-effect (Verfremdungseffekt) used by Bertolt Brecht.

In conclusion, I saw the Ensemble Theatre production of Baby Doll as an interesting exercise, performed and designed very well; and I quote in the spirit of conversation the Director’s Note by Shaun Rennie.  “It feels like a dangerous conversation to be having in 2019 and I have questioned my own privilege as a white, male storyteller in this process.  I have faced the conundrum of not wanting to speak on behalf of anyone yet at the same time wish to engage in the conversation.  I hope that this production inspires further interrogation of a system that Williams and Kazan were clearly lampooning back in 1956, but which is still unfortunately pervasive today.”

Kate Cheels and Socratis Otto
as Baby Doll and Silva Vacarro
Socratis Otto and Maggie Dence
as Silva Vacarro and Aunt Rose Comfort
in Ensemble Theatre's production
of Baby Doll by Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan
adapted from the film by
Pierre Laville and Emily Mann


Flight Memory pays tribute, through music, to a critically Important Australian Invention

Flight Memory
A jazz song cycle
By Sandra France and Alana Valentine
Directed by Caroline Stacey
The Street Theatre
Nov 14 - 17, 2019

by Tony Magee

8.36am, December 31, 1968 - New Years Eve.

MACROBERTSON MILLER Airlines Flight 175, (the WA subsidiary of Ansett Airlines), a Vickers Viscount registered as VH-RMQ, takes to the skies from Perth, en-route to Port Hedland.

It never arrives.

35 km from the destination, part of the right wing separates, along with one engine and the plane crashes, killing all 26 on board.

The aircraft was equipped with a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder.

It is the first aviation disaster anywhere in the world, where both these devises helped discover the cause of the accident, in this case, structural failure due to metal fatigue.

The exact plane, MMA Viscount VH-RMQ taxiing at Perth two years earlier in 1966. Photo: Merv Prime

AS A CHILD in the 1960’s, I can remember seeing my parents off on various occasions from Canberra airport on that model of plane.

The Viscount was in service for both Ansett and TAA, who were the domestic carriers of the time.

Qantas was overseas only, using the Boeing 707 jet aircraft and the older propeller driven Lockheed Super Constellation.

On warm-up and taxiing to the runway, the four propeller engines of the Viscount screamed - it was deafening. During take-off, the doppler effect kicked in and the sound became a low, humming, drone as she became airborne.

N COMPOSING music within the jazz idiom, to capture the essence and vital necessity of the Australian invention of the Cockpit Voice Recorder, Sandra France and Alana Valentine have delivered a musical whirlwind tour, encompassing a huge range of stylistic variation.

Arranged for three singers and a six piece instrumental accompaniment, the piece is effectively a modern jazz song-cycle.

L-R: singers Liam Budge, Michelle Nicolle and Leisa Keen in rehearsal. Photo: Shelly Higgs

Leisa Keen, Michelle Nicolle and Liam Budge form the excellent vocal ensemble performing in solo, duet and trio formats, each song telling the story of the idea, struggle, rejections, prototypes, final working model and eventually, acceptance accolades, that became the cockpit voice recorder, or CVR - all the work of Australian inventor and aviation enthusiast David Warren.

The band comprises some of Canberra's finest musical talent - Brendan Clarke on bass, Gary France on drums, Jess Green on guitar, Ben Marston on trumpet, Tom Fell on alto sax with Sandra France directing and leading from the piano.

UR family lived in Mount Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula during the 1970’s. Sir Reginald Ansett had a huge mansion there on Canadian Bay Road at the time.

Sir Reginald Ansett KBE. Photo courtesy W Bro D Hudson, Freemasons Victoria.

Reg was a frequent visitor at the local shopping centre, affectionally known as “The Village”, along with fellow luminaries Noel Ferrier, Mike Walsh, Graham Kennedy and the Reyne brothers, James and David, founding members of the Aussie rock band Australian Crawl, all residents of that suburb.

They were always up for a wave or a "Hi Reg" or "Hi Graham" as we passed them by in and out of Safeways Supermarket or other shops.

HE ANSETT operated MacRobertson Miller Viscount air disaster on New Years Eve 1968 caused the immediate grounding of all Viscounts flying in Australia. Three weeks later this became permanent and spelt the end for older style prop driven aircraft on Australia's domestic routes. By 1970, that model along with the twin engined Focker F-27 Friendship and the larger four engined Lockheed Electra were fazed out and replaced by the new, sleek, jet driven Douglas DC-9 and Focker F-100 and later the first generation of Boeing 737 and 727.

For the international routes, affectionately dubbed "The Kangaroo Routes" Qantas replaced the aging Boeing 707s and antiquated Super Constellations with the new and massive Boeing 747 type 100 - a plane that remained in service, with various upgrades, for the next 50 years. The last one will be retired in July 2020.

PERHAPS the best example of the use of a CVR in solving the cause of an air disaster is the Tenerife accident of March 27, 1977 at Canary Islands involving Pan Am Boeing 747 flight 1736 and KLM Boeing 747 flight 4805.

Just past 5pm, KLM flight 4805 is instructed to taxi down the entire length of the runway. Dense fog has now covered the airport, making it difficult to see beyond a few hundred meters. The tower orders Pan Am flight 1736 to follow the KLM before exiting the runway using Taxiway C3.

Here is the exact transcript of the CVR recordings from both planes and the Control Tower, which reveal the conversations and confusion that led to the world's worst aviation disaster:

Flight Officer Bragg: "Tenerife, this is Pan Am Clipper 1736"

TFN Tower: "Clipper 1736, Tenerife"

FO Bragg: "We were instructed to contact you and also to taxi down the runway. Is that correct?"

Tower: "Affirmative, taxi onto the runway and leave the runway third, third turn on your left."

Bragg: "Third to the left, okay."

Flight engineer: "He said third."

Captain Grubbs: "I thought he said first."

Bragg: "I'll ask him again."

The thick fog means that both aircraft are invisible to the tower and to each other.

Tower: "KLM 4805, how many taxiways did you pass?"

Flight Officer Meurs: "I think we just passed Charlie Four now."

Tower: "Okay. At the end of the runway make a 180 [degree] and report ready for ATC clearance."

Meanwhile, on the Pan Am...

FO Bragg: "The first one is a 90 degree turn."

Capt Grubbs: "Yeah, okay."

Bragg: "It must be the third. I'll ask him again."

Bragg: "Tower, would you confirm that you want us to turn left at the third intersection?"

Capt Grubbs: "One, two..."

Tower: "The third one sir. One, two three - third - the third one."

Capt Grubbs: "Good. That's what we need right? The third one?"

Flight engineer: "Uno, dos, tres."

Capt Grubbs: "Uno, dos, tres."

Flight engineer: "Tres, si."

Grubbs: "Right."

Flight engineer: "We'll make it yet."

Grubbs: "That's two."

Flight engineer: "That's a 45 [degree] right there."

Grubbs: "Yeah."

Pan Am 1736 is now approaching the third exit.

Bragg: "That's the one right there."

Grubbs: "Yeah, I know."

Flight engineer: "Okay, next one is almost a 45 [degree], huh, yeah."

Grubbs: "But it goes...yeah but it goes straight ahead. I think it's gonna put us on the taxiway."

Flight engineer: "Yeah, just a little bit, yeah."

Flight 1736 has now passed their intended exit, Charlie Three.

KLM 4805 has now reached the beginning of the runway, done it's 180 degree turn and after lining up, Captain van Zanten immediately throttles up for takeoff.

Flight Officer Meurs: "Wait a minute - we don't have an ATC clearance."

Capt van Zanten: "No, I know that. Go ahead and ask."

FO Meurs: "Tower, KLM 4805 is now ready for takeoff and we are waiting for our ATC clearance."

Tower: "KLM 4805, you are cleared to the Papa Beacon, climb to and maintain flight level 90, right turn after takeoff, proceed with heading 40 until intercepting the three two five radial from Las Palmas VOR."

Meurs: "Ah roger sir. We are cleared to the Papa Beacon, flight level 90 until intercepting the three two five. We are now at take-off."

Capt van Zanten: "We're going. Clear for thrust."

Tower: "Okay"

KLM 4805 is now at full thrust and speeding down the runway for take-off.

Tower: [addressing the KLM plane] "Stand by for take-off. I will call you."

FO Bragg (on the Pan Am): "And we're still taxiing down the runway, the Clipper 1736."

Tower: "Papa Alfa 1736, report the runway clear."

FO Bragg: "Okay, we'll report when we're clear."

Tower: "Thank you."

Capt Grubbs: "Let's get the fuck out of here."

FO Bragg: "Yeah, he's anxious isn't he?"

Flight engineer: "Yeah, after he held us up for half an hour now he's in a rush."

Pan Am 1736 is now still on the runway and approaching exit Charlie Four [they had missed the third one]

Flight engineer Schreuder [KLM]: "Is he not clear then?"

Capt van Zanten: "What do you say?"

Schreuder: "That Pan American - is he not clear?"

Capt van Zanten: "Oh, yes."

Capt Grubbs [Pan Am]: "There he is ...look at him. Goddamm that son-of-a-bitch is coming!"

FO Meurs: "V1"

Capt van Zanten: "Oh, shit!"

FO Bragg: "Get off, get off, get off."

KLM 4805 could not gain enough height to clear Pan Am 1736, which had not finished taxiing off the runway.
Photo courtesy Smithsonian YouTube channel.

All voice communication ends at that point, as the KLM plane, having just made lift off, shears off the top of the Pam Am and crashes back down onto the runway in a fireball. All 248 aboard perish.

Of the 396 passengers and crew on the Pan Am flight, 61 survive, including Captain Grubbs, First Officer Bragg and Flight Engineer Warn.

Total fatalities 583.


As a result of this accident, t
he aviation industry made numerous recommendations on language usage, terminology and the need for junior officers to be more assertive towards their captains if they thought something wasn't right, with hierarchical relations amongst crew members being played down, with a greater emphasis on team decision making by mutual agreement.

This resulted in the development of Crew Resource Management, as a fundamental part of airline pilot's training.

Colloquial phrases such as "okay" or "roger" were banned, in favour of a readback of the key parts of the instruction to show mutual understanding.

The word "takeoff" in terms of the phrase "ready for takeoff" has been replaced by "departure", ie: "ready for departure". The word "takeoff" can only be used when the aircraft is cleared to do just that by Air Traffic Control. Additionally, once an aircraft is lined up and ready for departure, the tower must prefix this with "hold position".

These practices are now world-wide amongst all airlines and all airports.

AUSTRALIA became the first country to mandate the carriage of cockpit voice recorders on civil transport aircraft, a trend which was later followed by other countries. Today, all large civil transport aircraft are required to carry a CVR.

THANK YOU David Warren for your invention and thank you to the cast, crew, production team and composers of Flight Memory for enlightening our audiences through music on the critical value and necessity of the CVR.

[Author's note: The above is an article and NOT a review. I was scheduled to review Flight Memory for Canberra City News, attending as a music critic in the audience, however, I ended up in Calvary Hospital instead, for a fortnight, and my colleagues Rob Kennedy, Bill Stephens and Len Power attended and reviewed the show. You can read Rob's review here, Bill's review here and Len's review here. I however, have always had a passionate interest in commercial aviation history, so from my hospital bed I wrote and filed the above story for the CCC Blog and also my own blog, Art Music Theatre. Tony Magee]

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Odd Couple

Brian Meegan (Felix) and Steve Rodgers (Oscar)
The Odd Couple by Neil Simon.  Ensemble Theatre (Kirribilli, Sydney) November 22 – December 29, 2019.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
November 27

Director – Mark Kilmurry; Set and Costume Designer – Hugh O’Connor; Lighting Designer – Christopher Page; Dialect Coach – Nick Curnow


Speed – Laurence Coy            Gwendolyn – Katie Fitchett
Roy – Robert Jago                  Murray – James Lugton
Felix – Brian Meegan             Vinnie – Nicholas Papademetriou
Cecily – Olivia Pigeot             Oscar – Steve Rodgers

On Wednesday’s formal opening night – as I imagine will happen at every performance of The Odd Couple – as the guys finally settled down for their traditional Friday night poker game, after the upset of Felix’s two divorces plus the excitement of Cecily and Gwendolyn (one of whom was a widow not a divorcee, because her husband had died moments before the paperwork was completed), the Ensemble audience exploded like a celebratory fireworks display of laughter and applause.

Brian Meegan’s Felix’s thoroughly irritating tidiness, cleanliness and cooking surely explained why his wife had gone to a lawyer; while Steve Rodger’s warm welcoming absolute sloppiness as Oscar understandably left him with an eight-room apartment in New York and an ex-wife who seemed perfectly rational over the phone.

Mark Kilmurry did exactly the right thing by keeping the setting true to the New York culture of these already old-fashioned men when Neil Simon wrote them in 1965.  They all sounded like variations of Woody Allen to me, from the days when he was still funny.  Maybe to try to update and place The Odd Couple in Australia today just wouldn’t make a comedy.

But the joke of Oscar’s divorce and being left rambling about in an empty house, inviting the distraught Felix to move in with him – to save Felix from killing himself and Oscar from drinking himself into oblivion – and the odd couple’s inevitable divorce because of their basic personality differences, stays funny at a certain degree of distance.

20 years later, Neil Simon himself wrote a female version, where the women played Trivial Pursuit instead of poker.  But it seems to me that the comedy of Felix’s suicidal possibility might not be read in the same way for the woman, named Florence, even if set in 1980 as Simon says. 

Essentially, as Kilmurry’s directing shows, the men are so lacking in self-awareness that we can’t help laughing at their stupidity.  He made sure, though, that although Gwendolyn and Cecily (taken straight from Oscar Wilde, of course) are giggly and excitable (done perfectly by Olivia Pigeot and Katie Fitchett), they are English in Neil Simon’s American joke, and therefore show simple practicality and commonsense.  Being divorced or widowed doesn’t see them turn suicidal.  I would be very wary of reversing these roles, in 1965 or 1980, let alone today.

So, this The Odd Couple is a great success, not only for the leads Steve Rodgers and Brian Meegan and for the women, but equally for the whole team of poker players with each of their distinct personalities and particular concerns for the welfare of Felix in his dire straits.

Go along to the famous boatshed in Kirribilli, the Ensemble, and laugh yourself silly – at these men, if you’re a man; and, equally, if you’re a woman.

Packer & Sons

Packer & Sons by Tommy Murphy. Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney, November 20 – December 22, 2019.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
November 26

Director – Eamon Flack; Set and Costume Designer – Romanie Harper; Lighting Designer – Nick Schlieper; Composer – Alan John; Sound Designer – David Bergman and Steve Francis; Fight and Movement Director – Nigel Poulton

Performed by
Nick Barlett                      John Gaden
Anthony Harkin                John Howard
Brandon McClelland        Josh McConville
Nate Sammut
/ Byron Wolffe

Tommy Murphy and Belvoir “gratefully acknowledge that aspects of this play are inspired by the books of Paul Barry, The Rise and Rise of Kerry Packer, Rich Kids, and Who wants to be a Billionaire?

Murphy opens his Playwright’s Note quoting James Packer – the grandson of media mogul Frank Packer, and son of the even more media mogul Kerry Packer – saying “James Packer believes you want to be him.  ‘I recognise that the vast majority of people would swap places with me and I wouldn't swap places with – with anyone’ .”

After Josh McConville's powerful performance of James' mental anguish, in the after-show meet-the-cast (and author) session, Belvoir artistic associate Tom Wright put the question I already had in mind: What sympathy should we feel for the tears of a billionaire?

The further question as I saw it is: Should I see Murphy's play as no more significant than the 1980s American tv soap Dynasty; or should I upgrade it to compare with Shakespeare's study of the father and son kings Henry IV and Henry V?  In the discussion on the night, this similarity was raised.

But first, should I encourage you to see Packer & Sons?

For its theatrical quality, absolutely yes. 

It's true that I found the first hour, following the young Kerry (also played by McConville) and his brother Clyde (Brandon McClelland) rather less emotionally engaging than the second half, which followed the relationship between James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch (Nick Bartlett) in the One.Tel venture, and leading to James' mental breakdown.

This, I think, is in the writing which has perhaps kept too strictly to the information available to Murphy.  These families are not fictional as in Dynasty, nor in the distant past as the kings were for Shakespeare.  For Murphy there are matters of legal clearances when dealing with such current dominating global families, the Packers and the Murdochs.

The key to the success of the play on stage is the device of using the special skills of the actor John Howard as a throughline – first as the older Frank Packer and then as the older Kerry Packer, with McConville switching from  the younger Kerry to his son James.  The autocratic strength of Howard's interpretations, especially for the Kerry Packer role, are a wonder to experience.

His treatment of the young boy James (Nate Sammut on this occasion) in the learning-to-play-cricket scene was particularly awful.  James can do nothing right and is called a 'wuss' – later repeated at the time of the failure of Lachlan and James' attempt to make One.Tel succeed.  Their crooked partner Jodee Rich  (Anthony Harkin) has to go, bawls Kerry at James.  “You’re a wuss!”

The stylisation of the design which can make near-death scenes and wildly drunken vomiting seem funny – at least until James' final breakdown in contrast – works very well.  It's a risk well taken, by Murphy in the writing and by Eamon Flack in his directing.

So certainly see Packer & Sons, and then take on the questions it raises.

Of course it has much more to offer than the sentimentality of a tv soap.  But what does it not offer?

Murphy makes it clear in his Note that he, like Paul Barry, has concentrated on the father/son relationships rather than wider considerations.

How does it come about, as one description of Who wants to be a Billionaire mentions, that James Packer, by 2009 and the GFC, became “Australia’s richest man [who now] was $4 billion poorer and no longer on top of the heap.  He was smoking again, putting on weight and shutting himself off from friends.  Years earlier far smaller losses in One.Tel [where Murphy's play ends in 2001] had pushed him to the brink of a nervous breakdown and made him seek salvation in Scientology.”

The book promo ends “Can James survive this time?  Will he bounce back?  Or was his father right?”

In the play, James grits his teeth, now his father and his uncle are dead, as if he must soldier on.  Then blackout.

For me the applause for an excellent production is not enough.  Superficially there is a parallel with Shakespeare's Henries, but Tommy Murphy is not yet Australia's modern Shakespeare.  The key difference is that Henry V is about a young man with a dictatorial father in the top social power position – but Henry realises, after a period of irresponsibility, that he has to provide true leadership for his society, and for his own self-belief and integrity.  We may not, today, support monarchy – but Henry learns to become a worthy person, despite his father.  Kerry Packer continued his irresponsible behaviour, including whoring, far beyond youthful oats sowing.  Neither he nor his son James used their power for ethical social leadership.  Their money is their only measure of man.

I wonder, then, where Tommy Murphy and Eamon Flack stand.  Murphy writes about “allegations that Crown Resorts profited from improper activity by consular officials and allowed passage of organised crime and money laundering....This play is not the casino narrative”. Flack writes “The story, ultimately, is James Packer's, and he is still writing it himself.  I  can't help [but] admire  his decision to open up about the personal costs of running the business [from media mogul to gambling mogul] ....  With all my heart I can abhor the Crown monument at Barangaroo and wish James Packer well.”
(My square brackets)

Excuse me?  The massive destruction of the Barangaroo foreshore on Sydney Harbour by Packer's building of a giant gambling casino shows James Packer to be even worse than his father.  Murphy writes “This play is not the casino narrative.  That story is yet unwritten.”

Billionaire, irresponsible money-makers with no ethical principles provide us with the opposite of true leadership.  They twist people's worst proclivities to their own ends.  If they end up tying their mental states in knots, we may need to come to understand people like the Packers and their sons.  Tommy Murphy has certainly shown us the worst of patriarchal behaviour in practice.

But the real story that “is yet unwritten” – the one with no sympathy for these people (or for their friends the Murdochs who, for example, are virtually the only source of news in the whole of the state of Queensland) – that story should be written and acted out (and acted upon) right now.