Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pugilist Specialist Review

I'm just copying and pasting on this blog lately, aren't I. latest review to come out in Drum.


Pugilist Specialist is a fast play. It is very written. Pity that real life conversations are not this rapid fire, ideas and comebacks this kick arse. Solid writing for sure, but until the characters have established themselves in your mind, you’d better pay attention or you’ll lose the plot. In a way I wanted the writing to slow down a little... but then again it is set in a place where adrenaline is eaten for breakfast.

Four U.S. soldiers are sent on a mission to assassinate a target known as The Bearded Lady. Four specialists in their own field who rely on the others. All part of a well-oiled machine, all with different motivations and ideals. By the play’s end we are left questioning – as we do in real life – just what the hell is really going on.

The military needs drones, and the four characters presented in this play are mostly drones. They obey orders without question, but this does not mean they get along together or that they don’t silently question the orders they are given. I think this is what the play was looking at – how the entity that is military force doesn’t respect individuals or life at all.

Sam Haft pretty well stole the show with his portrayal of swaggering, testosterone-fueled sniper Freud. He had some damned funny lines and his acting was nothing short of superb. I overheard two other audience members comment on his performance. That he stood out from the others says a lot because all characters had some genuinely funny lines and were well-drawn characters heading full tilt into a mission that was always going to implode in one way or another.

Staging was simple and striking, and towards the end especially it took on a slightly surreal feel as the four soldiers were flown into enemy territory and dropped on their mission. There was something a bit bent about it all, something slightly insane as personal politics really came into play and things became even more nightmarish.

Adriano Shaplin’s 70 minute play is fast, funny, disturbing and, you’ll suspect, depressingly real.

Darlinghurst Theatre until 15 September.


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