Going to MTC productions generally depresses me. The audience is mostly made up of people over 50 (or 70), looking well off and victims of "affluenza". Am I one of these people?
The productions are generally populist, mainstream - but to be fair - usually of high quality.
So yesterday along I went to see Influence the latest play by David Williamson - the acute observer of Australian culture. But I arrived feeling less than positive. Looking around, the audience looks the same - I feel depression deepening - and the question lingers for me as to whether Williamson has passed his "use by date".
This play - unusual for these days in that it has a cast of seven - deals with a Sydney shockjock called Ziggy Blasco who:
... likes to push buttons. Right-wing and self-righteous, the top-rating talk-back announcer gets the switchboard lighting up with his 'common sense' declarations on everything from dole bludgers to refugees. The trouble with Ziggy is that he actually believes the simplistic rubbish he spouts on air, which puts him at enormous disadvantage in the real world.
Well? Overall I think the play works. Sure there are lots of predictable, polemical arguments - brother and sister, father and daughter, father and son, husband and wife, step-mother and daughter, etc - and realistically there is no saccharine ending. The world is much more complex than the Ziggys of the world would have us believe.
But Williamson leaves us with that uncomfortable awareness that the "button pushing" by the Ziggys ( or Hitler, or Bush, or Howard) works.
And in the end - isn't that the purpose of theatre.
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