The Removalists Review

Reviewed by Odette McCarthy

Newtown’s New Theatre on King Street was almost entirely packed in its second week, for a  Sunday night performance of David Williamson’s play turned movie, ‘The Removalists’. Renowned Australian playwright Williamson was inspired to write this widely performed play after being told a story by a removalist. That is no surprise, as the play delivers a darkly satirical realistic portrayal of life, both in speech and performance. The most accurate, and thus impactful performances and stories seem to come from true, human lived experiences.

Director Johann Walraven quite correctly comments, “‘The Removalists’ hangs around Australian Theatre like a creepy uncle… brash, unconventional, abrasive and (sometimes) funny…The fact that a play written 50 years ago still so vividly paints... that it’s characters are still walking among us today, is a chilling realisation.” Despite thinking we have come far in terms of issues such as male power and dominance, domestic violence, sexual violence inclusive, and police discrimination, society still appears to ignore or stigmatize such situations, which can eventually lead to dire circumstances. 

The title, ‘The Removalists’, provokes intrigue and reflection. The overall smallest appearance was by the one furniture removalist, however the script, accompanied by the memorable performance from Xavier Coy, played a crucial role in the dark humoured lead up of the events to come. Being plural, the title, ‘The Removalists’, begs one to ponder… where were any other removalists? But a discreet metaphor begins to emerge right in front of the audience’s eyes.

The play disturbingly illustrated how quickly some seemingly stable people suddenly start to snap. The audience is forced to perceive similarities to this current day through introspection of their own lives today, and contemplation of their own personal reactions, which will likely be controversial. The conspicuous male dominance was unmistakable. The script, plus the other three male characters (of a total six cast members) were compellingly effective in their tellingly elevated roles. Lloyd Allison-Young, Laurence Coy and Alfie Gledhill, along with Xavier Coy, command most attention during the show, which undoubtedly demonstrates the disturbing matter of male dominance, aggression and abuses of power. The play would not have been as effective in its blow to the minds of the audience had it not been for professional Fight Director Tim Dashwood and Intimacy Director Nigel Poulton. I applaud them, my Applause-O-Metre scaling to 11, because this one goes to 11.

Everyone will have an opinion about the content dealt with in ‘The Removalists’, but everyone perceives the world in their own individual way. New theatre has put on an incredibly powerful and impactful play. Not for the faint of heart, or those who cannot watch savage violence, coupled with long periods of silence, are a definite eye-opener and thought provoker. I strongly recommend booking in, as this is a must-see before its last performance on May 22.