|Photo by Phyllis Wong|
A PROPERTY OF THE CLAN is a Theatre-in Education play by Nick Enright, commissioned by Freewheels Theatre in Education, Newcastle in1992. Four actors play all the eight roles. The play's structure shows the lead-up to, and the aftermath of a teenage party at the local Surf Club which with a potent mixture of alcohol, drugs, music and sexual hormones gets out of hand and ends in a violent female rape and murder. Its thematics deals with the young men and the 'culture' they live in, that 'conspires' to permit such terrible violence to erupt, the clannish taboos and behavioural expectancies that come into play to protect the guilty among their peers, and of the burgeoning efforts of the women and girls within that environment to reveal and make right the moral crimes that are in that cultural continuum. The crime is never seen but the consequences and attitudes within the community are shown with recognisable, uncomfortable accuracy.
There had been a highly publicised rape/murder of a young girl when the play was first commissioned and there was some controversy about the play directed at the lack of sensitivity by the writer and producers in bringing such a story into the theatre. However, the universality of identification among its core audience (schools) has more than justified its performance values and need. And despite that this play is now 22 years old the effect of it, in this production at the Blood Moon Theatre, is still staggeringly relevant. It seems nothing much has changed. Male entitlement, male discriminating, bullying behaviour, and male violence, especially towards women, (and not excluding other minorities) is still a major issue that our society is working through and must solve.
This production by Phil Rouse, in a small Bar venue at The World Bar, in the Kings Cross area, on a shallow, short-raised Band-platform, is intense and wonderfully acted by this company of actors: George Banders (outstandingly scary and moving), Megan Drury, Samantha Young (beautifully crafted delineation of all their roles -finely judged) and Jack Starkey. The Direction is tight and fearsomely clear, even with a production metaphorical conceit of active painting on a see-through plastic cyclorama to back-story the text, that began to pall as the drama unwound.
This play was developed further, commissioned for the Sydney Theatre Company as BLACKROCK, in 1993, and made into a film in 1997. This production of A PROPERTY OF THE CLAN is a one act, 90 minute experience (reviews from the original production suggest it was only 45 minutes). It is, given the material content, and particularly because of the acting quality, worth a visit, despite the difficult make-shift venue.