Reviewed by Lesley Reed
The Club, David Williamson’s satirical play about a 1970’s VFL Australian Rules football club, still resonates with audiences today because its bitter backroom dealings, power struggles and the personal foibles of players and officials remain real-life issues in the current AFL era.
Galleon Theatre Group’s production of the play has much to offer audiences, in particular the performance of Andrew Horwood as Jock Riley. Horwood is screamingly funny as he embodies a man intent on vindicating his own passionate belief that he is the best player, coach and official the club has ever had. Peter Smith shines as club president, Ted Parker, a man passionate about a game he has never played and desperate to justify his position by winning a premiership. Warren McKenzie produces a strong performance as the proud coach, Laurie Holden. In probably the most difficult role in the play, Aldo Longobardi downplays administrator Gerry Cooper as a pleasant bloke doing a decidedly dirty job. However, Gerry has his own agendas and Longobardi could let a little more of the manipulative Gerry shine through.
As he struts the stage as a larger than life stereotype, Hal Bruce looks like Warwick Capper without the bleach. This is a very funny portrayal of Geoff Hayward, the talented footballer who has discovered women and dope are his true passions. Myles Teakle produces a genuine performance as players’ representative, Danny Rowe.
Despite Williamson’s very wordy script, Director Vicky Horwood keeps the pace tight, particularly in the second act.
Galleon has produced an entertaining production of The Club, staged on an ideal boardroom set, where the walls are decorated with the photos of players and officials who, in more ways than one, have long since played their best game.