By David Williamson.
Presented by Geelong Repertory Theatre Company.
Directed by David Mackay.
The Club is Williamson’s famous play written in 1974 for the stage, a film version directed by Bruce Bereford and starring Jack Thompson, John Howard and Graham Kennedy was produced in 1980, and is a sports/political satire based loosely around the Collingwood Football Club. It’s about the uses and abuses of managerial power, which in 1976 foreshadowed the great changes that Australian football has since endured, and proves even more prescient since the rise and fall of Super League. This is a play set behind the scenes, a head-on tackle of brawn versus bureaucracy. It’s about the hangers-on, the end of loyalty, the coming of professionalism, big business and massive transfer fees.
Director David Mackay says he was attracted to the play because of his love of football (he’s a Tigers supporter), and thought “Why not combine my love of the game with my love of theatre, and direct The Club!” David is well-known for directing massively complex stage musicals in Geelong, such as Annie, The Mikado, Anything Goes and Oliver but has also directed the play Dimboola – another Aussie favourite, steeped in dialogue and interesting characters.
The Club is basically a continuous argument – rich in vocal shenanigans – and the cast has been well-picked for their skills. David says, “They are really impressive. I couldn’t be more happy.”
Steve Howell plays Ted Parker, the Club President. The Club is struggling on field and has not won a premiership in nineteen years and Ted has come onto the committee with a promise of modernization, signing a promising young player, Geoff Hayward, played by Jesse Bickerton. The coach, Laurie Holden, played by Ernie Rijs, is a long serving legend of the Club and has been coaching for several years with no luck. The players love him but the committee plot to replace him. Jock, played by Ian Rooney (who has been on our TV screens lately as Cec Drury, in The Dr Blake Mysteries for the ABC) is a past legend of the Club and also coached the Club to multiple premierships until he was replaced by Laurie.
Gerry, a business savvy administrator, played by Jonathon Lawrence, also want to replace Ted and they set him up at a Club function to try and force him to fall on his sword.
Club captain, Danny Rowe, played by Sean Sexton, is nearing the end of his career and the committee want him replaced. Danny fiercely defends his ability, knowing he has a few more years of service left in him.
On field, Geoff Hayward is completely discouraged from playing and simply makes up the numbers which attracts the ire of his coach and teammates given how much the Club paid for him. The committee starts to self-destruct and their real motives become apparent.
If you have ever belonged to a sports club, if you have ever been part of any organisation in which the will to win prevails and the trial of strength continues in the clubroom long after the players have left the field – then you will know the men of The Club.
Where: Woodbin Theatre. 15 Coronation Street, Geelong West
When: 5-20 September
Tix: 5225 1200
By David Williamson.