It has been suggested by psychotherapists that men hate women because they gave birth to them and men can never forgive them for being able to have that power over them; to be able to do the one thing they can never do – give them life. Men often have dreams of vaginas with teeth, or steel traps that mangle, highlighting their contemptuous terror and unconscious intention to destroy any possibility of surrender and respect.
In this play, the director explores the complex themes of physical and emotional abuse, gendered violence, power, authority, and violent crime against women whilst examining what family and safety can mean to people. The story can be likened to a dialogue about the Anita Cobby crime, and what ails our society of male siblings who refuse to honour, respect and take self responsibility in relationships with the Other.
The non linear vignettes in this family of doting mother, brothers and girlfriends who welcome back the return of the eldest brother after a year in jail, explore how the women become collateral damage in a tragic violent act committed by the boys.
A corner of the set boasts a careless jumble of newspapers, empty bottles, and rubbish – a metaphoric comment on the detritius and entrails of this gouged every-family and what is wrong with the male – female dynamic that will be smeared over two hours.
Linda Cookson Zilinskas produces and acts in the play, performing the role of ‘Sandra’ the mother. In a deliciously crafted portrayal of the complicated coquettish enabler and eviserated victim of her sons, Linda delivers a stellar performance.
Michael Shanahan plays misogynous “Brett”, who returns from a year’s jail. He reminds me of a young Steve Bisley – he brings a potent mix of malevolence and entitlement to his egocentric portrayal. A well choreographed fight scene showcases his stage presence as dextrously as his ‘having a leak’ and ‘mooninh’ scene in front of his neighbour. We pity poor Mrs Purvis. Michael commands the stage with an inspired performance of the typical ‘bad boy’.
Rebecca Fortuna plays ‘Michelle” Brett’s forever appendage-in-waiting. She delivers an excellent performance with tough poignance. She has a broad range and this play is a good vehicle.
Occasionally funny, thought provoking and confronting, the play raises pivotal questions that need to be addressed – what can we do about the dismissive, hateful, and violent way that many men treat women and how can we do something about low self-esteem and the systemic problems that maintain many women’s low expectations of relationships and limit possibilities? This is engrossing theatre that will haunt us.
Final performance Saturday 20th February 8pm at Gasworks.