Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Aug 6 – 31, 2013
Playwright: Daniela Giorgi
Director: Julie Baz
Actors: Peter Hayes, Gemma Scoble, Gertraud Ingeborg, Cherilyn Price, David Ritchie, Sarah Robinson
Daniela Giorgi’s political satire has an unambiguous message. In its prologue and epilogue, the play talks about the importance of active participation being the only means to effect change in politics and in life. This all sounds very dry and serious, but thankfully, the play’s structure is exuberantly quick and sharp, with succinct scenes that get straight to the point. It has a gentle sense of humour that keeps the proceedings light and entertaining, but this same lightness does seem to prevent a couple of heavier scenes from taking flight emotionally.
Peter Hayes’ performance is strong as the lead character Bill, a well-meaning and left-leaning Minister for Transport with a penchant for colourful language. His depiction of a gentle giant in government is endearing and central to the empathetic effectiveness of the narrative. Cherilyn Price is eminently believable as a well worn public servant, and provides some of the most genuine and lively moments. There are good performances from other members of the cast, but many suffer from playing their roles too plainly, resulting in two-dimensional, archetypal versions of “people in government”, “media types”, or “tourists” that on occasion fail to translate with much credibility.
There are lots of characters and many different ideas, but they all add to the tale, with none allowed to slow down the pace. The story is told with crystal clarity in spite of all the frantic action, and it is to the credit of both writer and director, that the audience is always connected to the plot. Colourful and delightful diversions are introduced throughout the play, entering and exiting seamlessly. It is noteworthy that spacial and psychological transitions that happen between scene changes are established with great flair. Friday might not hold the key to the great political challenges of our times, but it does showcase those challenges well, and presents them in the guise of a great night at the theatre.