AU ABROAD

Theatre Review: Fury - Sydney Theatre Company, Wharf 1 Theatre (23.04.13)

The Sydney Theatre Company's production of Fury is the latest play from Melbourne playwright Joanna Murray-Smith whose past works including The Female of the Species and Honour have scored her a myriad of awards and acclaim, both at home and abroad. Fury has been garnering a similar level of critical success since it premiered at Wharf 1 Theatre last week, and I was lucky enough to see what the fuss was all about for myself on Tuesday night.

Directed by STC's co-artistic director Andrew Upton, Fury is the story of an upper class family who go through a series of life altering events after Alice (Sarah Peirse) is set to receive a world-renowned science prize, while her son with Patrick (Robert Menzies), Joe (Harry Greenwood), is accused of an inflammatory act; not to give away too much here. What happens in this one and three quarter hours play is suprising, insightful, and features fantastic performances from all seven cast members, who play with Murray Smith's elegant script with skill and ease.

The script, is, in a word, complex. The intellectual family at its core are well spoken, with a set ideology about what's "right" and what's "good", and the importance of "appearance". When a friends of Joe's parents, played by Yure Covich and Claire Jones, come into the mix, they play as the antithesis of Alice and Patrick. Lower class, racist and aggressive, though articulate in their own way. It's this never ending onslaught of ideological discussion played through by all characters that makes this an at times exhausting experience. It's much to the credit of Upton and the cast that they are able to give such a strong script the powerful and well balanced treatment it deserves. There is certainly a lot at play here.

Rebecca, played by Geraldine Hakewill (pictured below), is the play's unknown entity who brings everything together in the play's final third, where the story takes a turn you don't expect. And it's in this that the play's finest quality is held: its story. It's a strong one, and one that takes you in from Alice's first uttering of the word "Fury" until her last piece of dialogue which puts the term in perspective.

The timing of the Boston Bombings throws an interesting spin on Murray-Smith's exploration of the differences between vandalism, protest and terrorism, especially given the age of the youngest suspect in this real life crime. But this was, naturally, an unexpected coincidence. Still, you leave the theatre pondering you own conceptions of protest, and how different movements over the years have made their own rules as to what's right and what's wrong. It seems that though her script, Joanna is keen, more than anything, to have her audience discussing its themes well beyond their viewing of its performance.

The set and lighting design are both simple and exquisite, with the entire play taking place in the family's home, with a concrete backing that reminds one of a university lecture hall, or as a part of some upper class inner-city living. A break in this backdrop serves as the primary entry point for its characters, while a 180 degree spread of the audience around the stage allows for the stage to work in a similar fashion: characters are able to sit with their backs to part of the audience in one scene and then move to face others next; a feature that would be frowned upon in a more straight forward setting. It almost makes the drama of the play even more confronting, with you feeling like you're a part of the household as well.

All in all, Fury is a though provoking experience, supplemented by a strong - though exhaustive - script and excellent performances from all involved. With the timing of current events giving the story even more precedence, Fury is a must see for anyone who enjoys quality Australian drama. Though I should point out, that to the actor's credit, there is some brilliantly witty dialogue filled in here too. You'll certainly have a good time here as much as you'll have a thought provoking one, which given the content was no doubt a difficult balance to walk.

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This production is supported by the STC Chairman's Council.

Duration: 1 hour 43 minutes, no interval
Times: Mon 6.30pm; Tues - Sat 8pm; Wed 1pm; Sat 2pm; Mon 15 Apr 8pm; 29 May 12.15 (Schools Day)

The season runs until June 8th.

Tickets available: http://www.sydneytheatre.com.au/what's-on/productions/2013/fury.aspx

All Photos © Lisa Tomasetti 2013. Used with Permission.