Thursday, 2 May 2002

The Dunny by Daniel Lillford , May 2, 2002

The Dunny by Daniel Lillford

La Mama at The Courthouse, May 2 until May 11, 2002

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Three of the most vulgar, drunken and foul-mouthed Aussie males are the subject of The Dunny, written and directed by Daniel Lillford. Astoundingly, playwright, Lillford, manages to make these three unpleasant blokes lovable.

It is a treat to see a Lillford play return to the Melbourne stage since he emigrated to Canada. The Dunny is a funny, brazen and distinctly Australian play. Perhaps it takes distance to appreciate the Aussie idiom completely.

Three sign writers from different generations trundle up to the bush to their shared galvanised iron shack for a bloke's weekend on the booze.

Robbo (Jeff Keogh) is a rugged, gruff 44 year old. The flip side of his vulgarity and booziness is his loyalty to both is unfaithful wife and to Pops, (Don Bridges) the older sign writer who taught him his trade.

Pops is a damaged Vietnam war veteran, one of the old school of sign writers with a work ethic. He is slowing down, his vision is going and he is about to be sacked.

Chooky (Michael Burkett ) is the youngest, the most talkative and the one with the crudest attitude to women and work. He is in the habit of getting himself hurt and saying the wrong thing.

The grotesqueness of their drunkenness, language and their knocking and teasing of their mates is offset by their total loyalty to one another. There is no place for women in this bush retreat. In fact, it is difficult to see how these blokes could relate to women at all.

The play is tough, gritty realism. Lillford's writing is pithy, witty and dialogue is realistic. Characters are impeccably observed and each is well-defined and distinctive.

The balance of the comic and poignant is excellent. Lillford's direction is slick and seamless.

Performances by all three actors are exceptionally colourful, stylish and skilful. Bridges brings great dignity to Pops. Keogh balances the rough with the emotional in Robbo while Burkett, as the maddening Chooky, is a highlight.

Greg Carroll'sdesign creates a rustic galvo shack and lighting by Ian Patchingis evocative.

This is a very entertaining play that captures the Aussie male character frighteningly well.

By Kate Herbert

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