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The Music – Savages

See article in its original context here by Simon Eales for Themusic.com.au

As a 20-something male, Patricia Cornelius’ new play Savages hits me right in the moralities. Not that it speaks directly to my demographic; the four-handed, one-act play is populated by middle-aged blokes with kids and mortgages and wives. But there is horror here, steeped in the fact that they’re acting like men my age.

The play imagines the mental states of four friends in the lead-up to a Dianne Brimble-esque scenario aboard a cruise the men have taken. They’re there on the cheap, pumped with booze, bad cologne and desperation. Like Saturday night on Swan Street on shore leave. Cornelius’ rhyming blank verse dialogue furnishes the actors and Susie Dee’s direction with the capacity for minute control over pace, and the actors open pockets of understanding with their relish of it.


There are moments of disconnect that I don’t think are intentional, where the audience is noticeably swimming and some seats have awkward views from which the blocking doesn’t quite make sense. But a ramp of tension builds throughout, marked by a deft soundtrack, as these boys get more cock-driven and less human, less humane. The set is like a nightmare, too. A massive, sloping wooden ship-deck dwarfs and knocks off kilter the already enigmatic space in the basement of 45 Flinders Lane. A cerebral and urgent dialogue play about base behaviour, with clear, incisive imagery and tight dramaturgy.

 

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