Contemporary attitudes, freedom of speech, political correctness and racial prejudices. These are all the topics packed into 90 minutes of exploratory drama in the acclaimed theatre production, Disgraced, coming to Geelong tomorrow night.
The Melbourne Theatre Company’s latest production is a tragic comedy according to Australian actor Mitchell Butel, who stars as a fussy and ironic New York curator in the show.
“It’s got that serious side of been an exploration of race relations and kind of modern political differences and all that stuff which just raises a lot of questions, but at the same time it’s just a really satisfying kind of good night at the theatre.
“I think people love a dinner party play where things go wrong. There’s a lot of laughs, and a lot of interesting kind of gags. It’s a real pressure cooker type of play.”
While quizzing Forte on the good coffee spots in Geelong, Butel says it is the immediacy of theatre and the audience that influences how this play, and many others, unfolds. Disgraced is a lean and sharply paced play that fluctuates between good will and high hopes, to bitterness and rage in the blink of an eye, raising more questions than can be answered. Initially drawn to the diversity and writing of the script, the hard working and diverse actor says the play is full of surprises, comparing it to the likes of Game of Thrones.
“While I was reading some of the stuff that happens in it is so unexpected and shocking that I literally clapped my hands to my mouth and was like ‘oh my god, I can’t believe that’s happened’.
“It’s kind of like watching Game of Thrones when you see the Red Wedding. There’s some bad stuff going down, and you’re just like oh my god. It’s fun to play, but I think that’s really focused on the audience too, you can feel the tension but you don’t know where things are heading.”
Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013, the 2012 play by novelist and screenwriter Ayad Akhtar has also been on Broadway and various productions around the world. This year, Disgraced has been screening in Melbourne with sold out shows for the past month and is heading to Geelong’s GPAC tomorrow night. Alongside Butel, the play stars Kane Felsinger (Neighbours), Zindzi Okenyo (STC’s The Golden Age) and Kat Stewart (Offspring).
With 25 years in theatre, starring in a number of plays, commercials, musicals and television shows, Butel says this production fearlessly puts contemporary attitudes under the microscope, and is a theatre so powerful it demands you to ask questions well after the show.
“Everyone had a thousand questions after. Like why did they say that, what’s going to happen to them, what will happen to that couple. Everybody is debating the reasons why they think people did what they did.
“You really need to have a drink after it. I recommend a nice Shiraz after this one.”
Written by Talia Rinaldo
For more information visit the website.
When & Where: GPAC Geelong – October 5 – 8