‘When Dad Married Fury’ was written by one of Australia’s most respected playwrights, David Williamson, the storyline being loosely based on a friend’s wedding. The 2011 Premiere of this play coincided with the opening of the Metcalfe Playhouse in Northbridge, sadly and shamefully now renamed.
At the time, like many others, I thought this to be one of Williamson’s poorest plays. It looked as though it had been finished in a hurry for the theatre opening. So, when I was asked to review this show, with poor memories of the initial presentation, I was not too keen to go. However, I am now extremely pleased to say that David got the message and rewrote most of the play, and it is now one of his best comedies – your jaw will drop and you will cringe at the politically incorrect comments and laugh at the family interaction. Tightly written, great acerbic dialogue with fully developed characters.
This highly recommended production can be seen at the Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street in Guildford as it proudly celebrates its 90th birthday. Due to COVID this show has changed dates three times and two cast members have had to reluctantly drop out. At last, director Lynne has the show on the road.
This two-hour production can be seen on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings with curtain up at 7.30 until the 24th September. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm.
Tickets available from www.TAZtix.com.au
The Scenes: 2009. Sydney airport. Judy’s flat in Sydney’s western suburbs. Various hotel rooms.
Set design and construction: James Nailen, Jon and Anna Pilkington, Grace Annear, and Zita Caruna.
The walls are a mid-charcoal colour, with dark furnishings. This simplicity ensures the concentration of the audience on the play’s rich dialogue. The centre of the back wall has a projection screen with clear Sydney views.
On a low plinth, a room has been created on each side of the stage. To the left various hotel rooms with authentic club chairs and side tables. To the right of the stage is the sitting room of Mum Judy’s flat, with a beautiful three-seater leather settee.
Near the front of the stage are 30 cms cubes used as airport and pub seating.
Technical designer was Geoff Holt and the lighting consultant Don Allen, two of Perth’s best technicians created an atmospheric lighting plan.
Technical operator: a very competent young lady who was faced with a nightmare. The curtain rose on the opening night, and the computer with the preprogramed lighting design either wiped itself or had a virus. No lights came on. The two actors on stage waited for a couple of minutes – though must have felt like ten – and then the curtain was lowered. For the first Act, the actors continued unfazed (brilliant, professional work) whilst the operator as subtly as possible searched the bank of faders for the correct lamps. The lesson is to have a backup USB or laptop to plug in for emergencies. I am sure all will fine for the remaining season.
Stage manager: Karen Woodcock, fine job as always.
Costumes: Sally Forbes and the cast gave us casual to top designer dresses.
Two amiable brothers, literature lecturer Ben (Wade Ellis) and engineer Ian (Paul Cook) are with Ian’s lawyer wife Susan (Kirstie Frances), they have met at Sydney airport to greet their widower father. Their Dad, Alan Urquhart (Tim Fraser) is an investment specialist who is returning to Australia for his 70th birthday. He has just experienced a horrendous year with the Global Financial Crisis that lost millions for share investors.
When he informs them that he has remarried, his new American wife Fury (Jennifer McGrath) is as the two sons expect, ‘long legs, big boobs and half his age’ – and opinionated!
Meanwhile, Ben’s wife Laura (Melissa Merchant) has gone to see her Mum, Judy (Karin Staflund), who is depressed and still mourning the recent loss of her husband.
Is this American ex-beauty queen a money grabber? Can the family stand the strain of this outspoken intruder?
Director Lynne Devenish has selected a magnificent cast, with each member having decades of experience in all genres. Their delivery was perfectly paced. The chemistry was deliberately aggressive and uneasy, with every line being delivered impeccably. Each character had a most distinctive personality, ranging from intense love to pure hate, which they displayed with every ounce of their bodies. The audience could immediately link the characters to famous people they know, or perhaps even their own family members.
This is a ‘must see’ play. Great script, direction and performances. Many congratulations. Could there be an award nomination in the offing?