Wednesday, 30 November 2005

Amendment to Terror, Kevin Summers, Nov 30, 2005

Amendment to Terror by Kevin Summers
 La Mama, Courthouse Theatre, Carlton, Nov 30 until Dec 17, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Nov 30, 2005

Kevin Summers’ play, Amendment to Terror, is a chilling prediction of some possible repercussions of Australia’s proposed new terrorism laws – really chilling.

Amelia (Fabienne Parr) and Nelson (Nigel Johnston) are two callow journalists on a mythical national gossip rag. T their unscrupulous editor, Dan, (Matthew Molony) enlists them to pursue a story about a Green politician. Dan encourages the two to sensationalise the pollie’s indiscreet romantic dalliances and they spin the story out for weeks.

Enter two media consultants (Felicity Soper, Christopher Elliott) for the paper. They question the young journos, attempting to find more dirt on the politician.

The shock comes when the two journalists find themselves incarcerated in interview rooms, divested of normal legal rights and being interrogated by none other than the media consultants who reveal themselves to be ASIO agents.

Suddenly, the young and inexperienced become targets of an investigation into international terrorism.

Summers’ plot is completely credible. The naivete of Nelson, the quiet ambition of Amelia and the aggressive journalistic opportunism of Dan are all believable in the context of a trashy scandal sheet.

The disturbing characters are the intelligence officers. All rights evaporate in the face of the potential threat to national security.

The problem with this production is not the script. It is the rather unimaginative direction (Bec Russell) and the uneven acting of the cast.

A highlight is Parr as Amelia. She inhabits her character fully and without any overacting. Molony finds some comic thuggery in Dan.

The remaining cast seem uncomfortable in their roles and this is no fault of the often clever dialogue. Soper is almost inaudible much of the time, Johnston is not connected to the character or dialogue and Elliott seems awkward in his role.

Summers’ writing is often witty and well observed. The script could start after the first two scenes but it gathers momentum when the interrogations begin.

It is disappointing to be left in the dark about the outcomes of the investigation for the off stage character, Harry Bird, the Green politician. But then, perhaps this is logical in a secret investigation. No one knows anything for sure.

By Kate Herbert

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