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The Removalists

Festivals

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A production of David Williamson’s classic play The Removalists can sometimes end up perversely life-affirming. The humour blackens as the show goes on, as the character revelations deepen and darken. But somehow – and this is how it was on this night at least – the audience moves away with a little of that “always look on the bright side of life” feel.

It’s a pity the play doesn’t have a catchy number to conclude on – it might have made Broadway.

The show at Carclew, presented by Max’s Masters Performance Art, starts a little slowly. A linen curtain is strung out over a simple wooden frame at the back of the stage, with a cut-out window and door the only scenery apart from the desk of Sergeant Simmonds, from which his tormenting of first-day Constable Ross begins.

When Kate and Fiona Mason arrive to make a complaint of domestic violence against Fiona’s husband Kenny, the show warms up appreciably. The cast of six comes to the party and the ensemble has the audience in its thrall through the second half.

Constable Ross steals the show from Kenny Carter by a small margin. His transformation from uncertain, academy-trained, first-day copper to self-serving survivalist wanting to blow the head off their own victim with a shotgun to hide evidence of a beating is quite believable – and cringingly hilarious. The venom that Kenny Carter spits at the two cops has the audience almost on his side, which is as it should be. And The Sergeant becomes more confident and commanding as the show goes on, with the interplay with Carter and Ross becoming more frantic.

I thought more could have been done with dialogue delivery, especially in the first half – better use of pauses for effect, more nuance. Opportunities to accentuate key phrases could have been handled better. But this youthful cast did justice to the show. The final scenes alone – between Ross, Kenny and The Sergeant – are worth the price of admission.

The Removalists is playing at Carclew for just four more nights, until February 20.

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