Written by David Williamson
Directed by Anne Somes
Free-Rain Theatre Company
ACT Hub Theatre, Kingston to 25 June.
Reviewed by Len Power 9 June 2022
David Williamson’s ‘Emerald City’ is one of his most popular plays. First produced in 1987, it continues to have a life in frequent revivals. Although the play is now over 30 years old, Free-Rain Theatre Company’s new production at the ACT Hub Theatre shows why it still resonates with audiences.
The play takes a satirical look at a successful playwright and his book editor wife who have recently moved to Sydney from Melbourne. Desperate to continue his success in a markedly different working environment as well as being aware that the times are changing, the playwright, Colin, struggles to maintain control of his work without compromising his writing. Most other people around him seem more interested in making money than good art. At the same time, the ongoing success of his wife in the publishing business and her criticism of his current decision-making put a strain on their marriage.
Williamson and his family did make that move to Sydney in the 1980s but the play is not strictly autobiographical. Nevertheless, it’s fun trying to guess who some of the characters the playwright interacts with are modelled on.
|Isaac Reilly (Colin) and Victoria Tyrell Dixon (Kate)|
As the married couple, Colin and Kate, Isaac Reilly and Victoria Tyrell Dixon give fine, sophisticated performances. Both have excellent comic timing, ensuring that no laugh lines are lost. Helen McFarlane expertly gives the agent, Elaine, a formidable edge while masking the character’s self-doubt underneath.
Daniel Greiss has the difficult task of playing the character of Mike, the reptilian writer and womaniser with no redeeming features. Williamson’s writing here lays on the clichés too strongly, making the character cartoon-like. Greiss does his best with this impossible role.
|Isaac Reilly (Colin) and Hannah Lance (Helen)|
Director, Anne Somes, has given us a sparkling period production of the play. It zips along at a good pace on a stylish and attractive set with notable attention to detail by Cate Clelland. The many eye-catching costumes by designer, Fiona Leach, are exactly what you would expect each of the characters to wear in that time period.
This is an opportunity to revisit the 1980s, an era of corporate greed and style that is easy to disparage. It’s also great to be able to see one of David Williamson’s most acclaimed plays.
Photos by Cathy Breen
Photos by Cathy Breen
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.