Kevin Summers plays a very restrained, even muted Lionel Murphy, perhaps to highlight Murphy’s illness and imminent death. We crave more of Murphy’s boldness and arrogance, his brazen belief that he knew better than the people, the judges and the government.
The final courtroom scene captures some of the drama of the Murphy case and large cast works hard, but the production is ungainly and lacks theatricality.
As Attorney General in the Whitlam government, Murphy changed Australia by introducing progressive legislation such as anti-discrimination and divorce.
The play focuses on the later period of 1985-86 when Murphy was accused of attempting to influence a case against a friend when he was a High Court judge. Kiely was a journalist at The Age at that time when the incriminating ‘Age Tapes’ surfaced.
Perhaps trimming the cast and focussing the script on action would lift the excitement and the sense of controversy of the production.