NY Theater Review By Marcina Zaccaria
Australian Made Entertainment takes on power and corruption in David Williamson’s production of The Club.
Set in 1977 in the boardroom of an Australian Rules football club, The Club features men who remember their glory days as they deliberate on the fate of their team. They focus on who will get sacked and who will make the next move in their autocratic system.
The drama centers on the coaches, the players, and the club president. It’s more passion than greed that keep the level of tension high in the boardroom. With pointed jabs at their personal relationships and impassioned arguments about their vision, the men in The Club really take their stand. Yelling at perfect pitch, motives are revealed and the rise to power is questioned.
With The Club, Playwright David Williamson has crafted a drama with enough charm, style, and grace to keep an American audience interested. The Australian playwright has gained acclaim in Britain, United States, Canada, and many European and Asian countries. In 1972, his play The Removalists won the Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Award for best stage play. His stage plays have been turned into movies, and though The Club is suited for the stage, its filmic potential is easy to recognize. Williamson’s other works include On the Beach, which won the Australian AFI award and was nominated for a Golden Globe. His HBO miniseries A Dangerous Life, made the critics top ten list in New York and Los Angeles.
It’s an easy interplay between design and performance in The Club. An appealing ensemble, the actors glide across the stage with all the finesse of finely tuned sportsman. With broad gestures, they command the stage with the presence of superstars. Anger is vented, and feelings are echoed. Matthew Foster, as Ted,retains his place as an anchor on the stage. Marc LeVasseur. as Gerry, is suave and debonair. Their actions are not so much conspiratorial as grand standing. Though they spend only a little bit of time brow beating, they are constantly attempting to prove they are right. The system is theirs to command and retain. Peter Reznikoff, as Jock, is critically minded, tough, and convincing. Samuel Douglas Clark, as Geoff, carries his swagger with an appropriate amount of carelessness and attitude. Laurie (David Sedgwick) is particularly charismatic as he explains his decision to resign from the team.
Scenic designer Travis Bell does a great job evoking the 70s with old furniture. Framed photos, trophies, and medals are on the wall. Costume design by Emily Rose gives the show a contemporary feel, and provides only the basics. Lighting design, by Anthony Freitas, is good and functional, and sound design, by David Green, includes the rustling of the radio with up-to-date reports.
The producer, Australian Made Entertainment, is an independent arts organization “dedicated to bringing Australian works to the United States.” The company succeeds in bringing to the stage work with an “Australian flavor.”
The Club is playing at Urban Stages at 259 W. 30th Street. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the theater half hour prior to performance. Tickets are $18.00 , $10.00 on Wednesdays). For more information visit www.AustralianMadeEntertainment.com.
Photos by Samir Abady.