Theatre Review: The Triumph of Man – A Comedy in Two Acts


Presented by Rumpus Theatre

Reviewed: 15th September 2021

James Watson has written a very interesting piece of work. It is full of brilliant ideas. Challenging philosophy, sound advice and not so thinly veiled criticism of the way the world works. It opened to a full house of friends, family and fellow arts practitioners who were kinder to it than the finished product deserved.

The plot is derivative, the acting taken to the limits of the actors’ capabilities and the outcome very difficult to find a great deal to praise about it. Theatre of the absurd needs to have a really firm and professional basis. The actors need to be sure of their purpose, agile in their interpretation and clear in the formation of their ideas. There were moments of lucid and engaging performance, particularly from Arran Beattie and Chris Best as One and Two and Ellen Graham and Poppy Mee (especially in their scenes together as the students). Yoz Mench’s General Ferdinand was believable if a little caricatured and their Uncle Karl was a little like Santa on steroids but overall, they showed their versatility with great flair. Grace Boyle’s Ivana was subtle and believable but her contrasting character of Erasmus needed a muzzle. The constant yelling in her performance and poor support meant that much of her delivery was incomprehensible – it was audible; believe me if she had yelled any louder Rumpus would have lost its roof. The constant broken delivery meant that there were very few thoughts delivered intact. In fact, the truth got lost in the volume for several of the characters at key moments.

It is both pleasing and encouraging to see new works being given an airing with the support of Rumpus. The space is putting on new works and self-devised works by local actors and deserves great praise for its association with Paper Mouth and the support of the South Australian Government and the Helpmann Academy to provide young creative artists with a space to put on experimental and controversial new works. It’s encouraging to see young artists cutting their teeth on new material. This play is at the moment a great first draft, it needs work, needs polishing, needs an eye for attention to detail. It’s fresh, topical and overwritten. With a blue pencil it could be quick witted, vibrant and very politically challenging. James Watson has a great deal of promise and has proved himself already as a person to watch. The ideas in this play are bold, challenging and controversial but they get swallowed up in a mish-mash of styles that haven’t found the glue yet to hang it together.

One of the lines in the play is “Deliver us from critics” Sorry!

Reviewed by Adrian Barnes

Star rating out of 5: 3.5

Venue: Rumpus, Bowden

 Season: 15th – 26th September 2021

Tickets: $27.00 Conc: $22.00

Content Warnings: infrequent coarse language; references to death, torture and execution; loud gunshots; death by gunshot; and stylised fight scenes.


Photo Credit: Laura Franklin

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