Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Hate, Stephen Sewell, Feb 26, 2013 **1/2
By Stephen Sewell,
Malthouse Theatre Merlyn
Theatre, Malthouse until March 8, 2013 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Feb 26, 2013 Stars: **1/2 This review was published in Herald Sun online on Wed Feb 27, 2013, and in print some time later. KH
There are certainly some
meaty issues about political and familial power relationships in Stephen
Sewell’s 1988 play, Hate, but the content is buried under repetitive dialogue
and relentless tirades from the five family members.
Despite the density of
the text, the performances from the cast are strong, particularly William Zappa
as John Gleason, the tyrannical, manipulative father, corporate giant and
Liberal party stalwart.
John summons to his
country home, his wife, Eloise (Glenda Linscott), and adult children, Raymond
(Grant Piro), the stockbroker, Celia (Sara Wiseman) the nurse, and Michael (Ben
Geurens) the layabout.
Even before his arrival,
John’s powerful, chauvinistic and rightwing presence is palpable as the
siblings seethe with rage and venom about their father’s treatment of his
Raymond rails about his
father’s deception and mismanagement of the family company, Celia blusters
about her choice to isolate herself from the business and her resentment and
hatred of her father, and Michael reveals his mistrust, sense of betrayal and
inability to commit to anything.
Meanwhile, Mother lives
in a state of cheerful denial and relentless positivity.
However, the characters
seem incomplete and dislikeable, Sewell’s dialogue is overly didactic, dripping
with unremitting invective and spite, and it repeats the same issues in
While there are scattered
moments of wit and some entertaining references to Australian politics that are
strangely pertinent, given that the play is 25 years old, issues such as the
massacre of an aboriginal community on the family’s land feel bolted on.
Marion Potts’ production
is set on a very wide stage that has the audience swivelling their necks to try
to see action set in corners of the space, and she incorporates classical music
that seems out of place.
The second half has more
to recommend it, as the family’s dysfunction and the father’s profound betrayal
of each member is unravelled.
The lack of subtlety and
dramatic range in the script makes this a difficult play to enjoy, and it may
leaves an audience feeling bruised and exhausted.