INFLUENCE – The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild

INFLUENCE – The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild

Reviewed by Richard Lane

May 2010

Ziggi Blasco is a racist, self obsessed, xenophobic bully. He controls the radio airways with his attacks on “the working poor,” women, political, correctness and terrorists. But he cannot control his school- age daughter,Vivienne. Nor his beautiful, aggressively ambitious wife, Carmela. At home he is neither King nor in control and has little influence  on any member of his family which also includes his sister Connie and his aged Croatian- born  father, Marko.

Brant  Eustice’s production is taut and  is directed to produce “..a piece of entertainment.”(Director’s Notes)  rather than attempt to focus on our own society and our attitude to immigrants, particularly Muslims.   David Williamson’s play is certainly entertaining on one level, yet  at  the sub- text level it is a  stinging, bitingly funny play about the influence that “shock jocks” such as his central character Ziggi  can have on an unthinking, popular audience.

More detail could have been made of the set, as  with most Guild productions,  this one was minimalist. An ostentatious red  lounge suite, a wooden drinks cupboard and  an old fashioned radio.

As the central character Ziggi, Michael Eustice, in one of his rare appearances for the Guild, was
brilliant, with a minor flaw. He didn’t have a “radio voice.” Eustice was passionate, with a physical presence and in full control of the difficult role.

As his wife Carmela, Emily Branford was outstanding. She portrayed the totally self-obsessed, insensitive, middle class, “new money” snob with aplomb. Branford’s treatment of her house keeper(slave perhaps?) Zehra made us laugh, but uneasily. Alicia Case played the role of the Turkish house keeper Zehra with sensitivity and a nicely controlled inner strength. Kate Vanderhorst as Ziggi’s teenage daughter  made an impressive debut with the Guild, and Cate Rogers as Ziggi’s sister Connie, portayed her opposition to Ziggi’s hard line views admirably.

Due to illness of cast member David Jobling on opening night,  director Brant Eustice  bravely stepped into the role of Marko Blasco script in hand, doing a creditible job.

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