Theatre Review: The Club

What: The Club
Who: State Theatre Company South Australia and KOJO presents an isthisyours? and Insite Arts production
When: 5th April – 20th April
Where: Space Theatre
Price: $34 – $76

Ellen Steele, Louisa Mignone, and Nadia Rossi. Photograph: Chris Herzfeld

David Williamson’s The Club was set in 1977, capturing a football world full of bad men. In 2019, the State Theatre Company and KOJO have presented it re-imagined, with female actors playing each of the characters. These three actors play all six roles, with Louisa Mignone playing Gerry and Geoff, Nadia Rossi playing Ted and Jack, and Ellen Steele playing Laurie and Danny.

The play follows a football club and its politics. There are disagreements over the price paid for new player, Geoff Hayward. The Club President, Ted Parker, has recently been in the news for assaulting a stripper. The coach, Laurie Holden, has leaked a story to the press. It’s full of petty backstabbing, and it gets messy.

Nadia Rossi and Ellen Steele. Photograph: Chris Herzfeld

The plot is not out of the ordinary. It’s full of moments that have cropped up often across football news over the sport’s history. The staging also adds to this, the set design so perfectly capturing the average footy clubroom. It is through the re-imagining that problematic football culture is highlighted. The script is more outrageous when coming out of the female actors’ mouths, with casual sexism or references to domestic violence hitting harder than I imagine they would have otherwise.

Immediately from the beginning, The Club is silly but serious. In order to swap between characters, magnets descend from the roof on strings, enabling the actors to attach wigs to them and dash to the other side of the stage into the next one, skull cap on display for the audience. This is funny, the additional over the top facial expressions and masculine body language to differentiate between the characters aiding in this. Each Rossi, Mignone, and Steele are excellent throughout this.

Louisa Mignone and Ellen Steele. Photograph: Chris Herzfeld

Between the two acts, the staging changes. The play descends into full blown insanity. A hash fuelled conversation is imagined with the characters dressed in giant blow up penis costumes. The characters swap beyond the original actors, they swap from male to female and back. At one point, they appear on the stage holding giant talking heads made up from the faces of every big footy commentator or player you can think of. It’s madness. But highlighted above all is that 1977 or 2019, very little has changed in football culture.

4 out of 5 stars

Natalie Carfora

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