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Sunday, 8 June 2014

Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them - Review

Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them written by Christopher Durang is playing at the New Theatre until 28 June. This is an intriguing play. I don't know why Christopher chose the title but I expect it will put a few people off seeing it. It does have a dark side to the play and there is some violence but most of the torture is mental torture and some part of the play you can feel the tension rising in the characters. Christopher has, I expect, taken ideas from the insecurities we have now in the world after 9/11, but also the film The Hangover and just like The Hangover there is a lot of humour in the play.
Felicity (Ainslie McGlynn) wakes up in a strange apartment in bed with Zamir (Terry Karabelas). She has no recollection of the night before. Zamir wakes up before she can creep out and informs her that they are married. Felicity immediately wants an annulment but Zamir intimidates her and implies that he has a violent past so, she had better watch out. He wants to meet her parents Luella (Alice Livingstone) and Leonard (Peter Astridge). She talks to her mother first, saying that she suspects her husband to be a terrorist. In comes Zamir and puts on the charm but when Leonard appears the mood changed as Leonard and Zamir end up head to head, each threatening the other. As the play progresses it is apparent that Luella can only cope with life and her marriage by escaping into the world of Theatre. To her daughter she just seems a little mad but in reality she has be tortured for years by Leonard, not necessarily physically though it is implied but more mentally as he controls her. Leonard has a secret butterfly collection which he won't let anyone see. As his wife and daughter suspect he doesn't have a collection of butterflies, but belongs to a secret society who has been put together to protect the nation from terrorists. Leonard calls on Hildegarde (Romy Bartz) to help him get evidence on Zamir. Unfortunately, Hildegarde misinterprets a meeting Zamir has with Rev Mike (Ryan Gibson). Rev Mike married Zamir and Felicity and just happens to make porn films too. It all turns out very badly for Zamir, but Falicity doesn't like the outcome so asks to go back in time to make the play have a different outcome. There are several bizarre moment in the play.
The play was very well produced. The staging was thoughtful with one section revolving, so the scene changes were swift. All the actors were superb particularly Peter and Alice. The Director's notes talks about the Australian asylum seekers and their treatment in the detention centres. But, this link is tenuous as Durang deals more with peoples prejudices and misinterpretations, hence the title Why Torture is Wrong. I would relate the story more to women who are in abusive marriages and people who are accused of being terrorist when they are not. The play was nothing like I imagined though it had an underlying darkness, Durang wants to make the comedy to come through without making light of the serious issues. Whether he achieves this I will leave it to you. For more information and booking visit - www.newtheatre.org.au Credit to read: Photographs © Bob Seary

1 comment:

Cameron Robertson said...

I have to agree that the title is a little discouraging I must say. However, if you look beyond that, you would know that every story has a message in it that the writer wishes to convey across. Hence, this play which was illustrated at Sydney definitely deserves a watch and not a premature judgment.