Presented by University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
Reviewed 5 May 2018
Now in their 80th year of productions, the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild celebrate with a production of the topical and provocative Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America.
The play, although written in 2003, is probably more relevant than ever considering the controversial political climate not just in America, but in countries all around the world. Australian academic, Professor Talbot, is teaching at Columbia University in the hectic and fearful post-9/11 America. With many Americans criticising and discriminating against their perceived enemy, Talbot publicly draws similarities between America’s current societal culture and that of 1930’s Germany, only to find bold criticism in response alongside sporadic bouts of intense violence at the hands of an unknown man.
This is a show that is up-front and in your face, not leaving anything to the audience’s imagination. The performance is a powerful conglomeration of verbal abuse, swearing and sporadic violence in the world of American paranoia after the intimidating horrors of 9/11, although there is uncertainty about what is real and what is paranoid delusion.
The layered set design, containing multiple levels, creates an interesting shifting eye line for the audience as they transition through the numerous settings. With much of the stage’s spaces intelligently utilised, the scenes do not feel repetitive or stale, which is important in a three-hour-long production.
Lead actor, Nick Fagan, is brilliant as the mentally tortured Professor Talbot whose world falls apart around him, but whether it is his actual reality or some shadowy, paranoid, mental disintegration seems unclear. As the character of Talbot is on stage for almost the entire show, it is necessary that the actor portraying him is talented and riveting; and Fagan is.
You could be forgiven for thinking Stanley Tucci (Julie & Julia, The Devil Wears Prada), had strolled onto the stage, as the enthusiastic Tim Edhouse who portrays the enigmatically evil University Dean, Jack, performs with similar flair to the Hollywood actor. Another stand out is Jessica Carroll as Talbot’s supportive, yet in the end long-suffering, wife whose attempt to follow her dreams is criticised and over-shadowed by her husband’s dramatic circumstances.
For those after a controversial and intellectually stimulating production which mirrors many of today’s issues, this will be a thoroughly enjoyable night as it questions not only its protagonist’s reality, but that of the audience as well.
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Venue: Little Theatre, The Cloisters (off Victoria Drive), University of Adelaide
Season: 5 – 19 May
Duration: 3 hours (20 min interval)
Tickets: $23 – $28