Filibuster Friday | Review of Sydney Independent Theatre Company’s Friday (SITCO)
The Sydney Independent Theatre Company is currently staging a new Australian work, Friday (2013) by playwright Daniela Giorgi under the direction of Julie Baz. Friday is set in no specific place, but it could be the parliamentary backrooms of any democratic nation. Bill Twomey, Minister for Transport, has a bold new policy: free public transport for the city. However this maverick pollie releases his plan without cabinet approval, and when the question of funding is raised the media are quick to label the policy as a pretext to impose a new tax. With his visionary plan now threatening the party’s chances at the next election his enemies start to circle: powerful lobby groups and ambitious young politicians would see him gone, and when scandal starts to leak his political career (and life) is thrown into jeopardy.
Although Giorgi states the play is about power, on viewing it seems that the play really speaks to the idea of idealism, and if that idealism can survive in a cynical world where the only thing that matters is the latest scandal and winning the next election. This is a political satire, and although it makes clear that democracy is a good thing, it isn’t without its faults. Is it dangerous to be optimistic in this world, as one of the characters would have us believe; is survival the best we can hope for, but survival to what end? We’ve all heard it, people go into politics to make a difference, but how much is one willing to compromise to stay there?
Peter Hayes played Bill Twomey, The Minister for Transport. Hayes approached the role with a wonderful sense of integrity and achieved a good balance between the highly crass and the rather principled side of Bill. From Hayes’ performance, one might call him the ‘tired idealist’. Hayes was particularly watchable during his final moments in which he and those ‘fucking stars’ have a beautiful moment of epiphany. It was a lovely addition which made for a more nuanced performance.
David Ritchie as the Leader of the Opposition was naturally very persuasive as a parliamentarian. He exuded the air of an older, wiser, more considered politician with his effortless command of the stage and incredibly unique voice. Yet Ritchie’s overall effectiveness suffered slightly from the requirement that he play two characters. This is hardly his fault but the trade-off is that he becomes more generic.
Gertraud Ingeborg as the Premier was aesthetically perfect with good poise and elegance to match. She also took on the role of the parliament’s janitor, which made for an amusing double up. Yet as was the case with Ritchie, the character switch diminished her previous character’s importance. Further, it was unfortunate that Ingeborg’s accent (whilst workable for the janitor) detracted from the otherwise credible picture of a Premier. It is on this point that she was just shy of convincing, since the role requires constant demonstration of vocal command (especially in a Parliament).
Sarah Robinson played Angela Kazantis, the Minister for Transport’s Chief of Staff, whilst Gemma Scoble played Patricia Volare, the Parliamentary Public Relations Officer. Both were quite believable as overworked civil servants, and both presented their character well, having fleshed out their respective goals and ideals. However, one would have liked to see both Robinson and Scoble ground their characters further and so demonstrate why they would have been employed in the first place.
The supporting cast too put in a deft job, with special mention to Justine Kacir as Carol Steele, Lobbyist for Strong Industries, who is wonderfully watchable on stage.
Generally, this is a well put together piece of theatre. Giorgi has a good sense of comedy, and there are many great lines in the piece. As a character, the straight-talking Twomey is effective as the loveable rogue. However, with a cast of 13 it doesn’t quite feel as though every character earns their place within the story, and at nearly two hours in length there is certainly room for some edits which would tighten and clarify the theme and plot. This is only if one wished to nit-pick; Friday may not be the next theatrical masterpiece but it certainly has a story to tell, a point to make, and does so in a humorous and entertaining way, making for an enjoyable night out.
Friday is playing at the Old Fitzroy Hotel until the 31st of August. For more information and to book tickets see their website: http://www.sitco.net.au/