John Howard and Chenoa Deemal. Photo: Heidrun Lohr

Posted by & filed under Arts & Entertainment, Theatre & Performance.

With his 53rd (or is it his 54th or 55th)) play, David Williamson once again explores the flaws  and foibles of his Australian characters through a family that is threatened by a dark secret from the past.

That secret is revealed in the first scene where Bruce, played by the well-known John Howard, meets his illegitimate Aboriginal daughter Tess (Chenoa Deemal), who castigates him for not attending her mother’s funeral and for ignoring her as she was growing up, and threatens to reveal her secret to his family.

She presents him with two unpalatable alternatives, and it is his response to this that leads the plot to its ultimately satisfactory conclusion after several rocky encounters along the way among the five members of this cast.

Bruce’s wife has just died and he descends on the home of his daughter Julie (Natalie Saleeba), her husband Craig (Glenn Hazeldine) and their ill-tempered and self-obsessed daughter Rachel (Jenna Owen), much to their collective horror.

Julie is caught between a selfish brat of a daughter, who wants the family to move closer to her exclusive high school in the wealthy suburb Bellevue Hill, and her husband who desperately needs his father-in-law’s financial help after being threatened with exposure as an embezzler of his club, and who yearns to live among the rich in Bellevue Hill.

Williamson’s renowned wit is in full force in this work as he explores themes of race, family, loyalty and honesty, and although we hate each of his characters at times for their bad behaviours, amazingly Williamson brings out their humanity and we end up well, perhaps not loving them, but at the very least understanding their various predicaments.

Like all comedies, this play ends in a great celebration and reconciliation, except for poor old Craig who is despatched without further ado.

Filmmaker Nadia Tass does a great job directing the superb cast.

A fabulous show in every respect!

Until Mar 17. Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall St, Kirribilli. $35-$73+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.ensemble.com.au

Reviewed by Irina Dunn