A very basic set up: A chair next to a small table with a carafe of water and glass. Perhaps it was coincidence, but as I took my seat I realised Nickelback was playing before the show started. A group that everyone purports to hate, yet still remain popular and nauseatingly prominent in the culture – sound like the political party of anyone we’re about to meet belongs to?
The lights fade down to black, then up. The politician is sitting in the chair with a smirk so smug, John Key would be taking notes. For the rest of the show, we’re party to a composite of right-wing politician speak-think. While he talks around a variety of slogans and metaphors best employed to get re-elected, he also slowly reveals darker moments from his past, despite his best intentions. What lies beneath…?
A Prudent Man is a gripping hour of theatre that shouldn’t be missed. It’s also a masterclass in the use of voice – both in terms of defining a character, and portraying that character.
Katy Warner’s script was tremendous. As much as the lead has been Frankensteined from a few real-life people and incidents (Kiwis will recognise the pony tail pulling, for example), she’s constructed a unique fictional character in the politician. Not only does he show some of the squirmy, self-aggrandising qualities of more than a few actual politicians, his voice also allows another way of looking at Australian Liberal politics and general right-wing thinking. It’s lovely stuff.
Lyall Brooks was brilliant in his performance, with a use of voice that was inspiring. Regardless of whether he was muttering or raging – you could hear every word. This was lean portrayal, nothing wasted. Every gesture, and slip and shuffle in his seat – all of it served the story. This was really a great work. Go see it.
Melbourne Fringe – A Prudent Man
Fringe Hub: Arts House – Rehearsal Room, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 17 September 2016 – 9.00pm
Season continues to 1 October 2016
For more information, visit: www.labkelpie.com for details.
Image: Lyall Brooks stars in A Prudent Man – photo by Adam Fawcett
Review: David Collins