On Friday night I headed to fortyfivedownstairs for Patricia Cornelius‘ new piece, Savages, a play about the notion of gender. Cornelius explains that, “…there have been so many dire incidents in the news about groups of men in teams and clubs on tours and trips that I wanted to take them on.”
And dire the incident is, but we’ll come to that in a second.
Savages is the story of four best mates setting out on a two week cruise; estranged ex-husband Craze (Mark Tregonning), affable everyman George (Lyall Brooks), sex-obsessed Rabbit (James O’Connell), and lovable innocent Runt (Luke Elliot). They bring with them both literal and emotional baggage, excitement, and expectations that will not be met. Each vows to step on board a free man, freed from one of the pressures of their life back on shore, for two weeks of surf, sun, a sex (wahey!).
This is a story about men. The open is of the four animalistically stalking across the main deck as the titular savages, but the play quickly falls back into more familiar territory; our first dialogue scene portrays that conversation I’ve had hundreds of times with some of my friends, the one that basically consists of saying “hey!” and “you know?” with different inflections.
Eventually you start to forget the savages. Craze still loves his ex-wife, and claims he sees the kids “whenever [he] can”. Runt still lives at home with his mother, and is kind of hopeless in many respects. George, it appears, has fallen in love with a girl. Rabbit’s relationship with his wife is stretched; he sees it as open, she’s probably just choosing to look the other way. These are all archetypes we know, and what follows from them is to be expected. That is, until it isn’t.
To say thing take a very dark turn is putting it lightly. Suddenly the savages we’d forgotten about an hour ago flash to the surface, and left me, as a male, exceptionally disturbed and unsettled. The final minutes of the play are completely unexpected, and make the very awful point that you can never know what anyone may be capable of.
- Patricia Cornelius wrote the play, which stars Lyall Brooks, Luke Elliot, James O’Connell and Mark Tregonning. Directed by Susie Dee.
- Drama Theatre
- Until 8 September
- Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm
- Saturday at 5pm and 8pm
- Sunday at 5pm
- fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, CBD
- Full $45
- Concession $37.50
- Groups 6+ $35