Tuesday, 5 May 2009

3CR Review > Tom Fool

Reviewed by John Gunn on Sunday, 02.05.09 for 3CR’s “Curtain Up”
Sundays at 1.00pm on 855AM.
This 1978 play by Franz Xaver Kroetz is the story of an ordinary working class family, comprising of the Father, Otto, his wife Martha and their teenage son Ludwig and their day to day lives and while their life is pretty ordinary, it is not so far away from violence, breakdown and utter chaos.

Research suggests the playwright has obviously great sympathy with the working class and an equally obvious hatred of the capitalist system both of which have made him a target of the far right in the past – he was also an activist in the West German Communist Party for most of the 1970s. . In 1971, the premiere of two of his plays, Home Work and Persistent, was disrupted by neo-Nazi thugs.

Told in a series of short but focused scenes where at times characters are left speechless with long pauses so full of meaning. It is very much a play of today where families are struggling and relationships can be strained to breaking point, however as in life through all of its struggles and misery there is much humour, particularly in the first act.

Otto worries about his job security and his place in the capitalist pecking order and takes pride in his role as breadwinner. Martha seems content to keep house and tend to Otto and teenage son Ludwig.. but Martha’s role opens out during the course of the play and is symbolic of the changes in the lives of working class from the 1970’s onwards. The play suggests it is Otto who appears to not be aware of the inner feelings and frustrations of his wife and son…

To give too much away about these three people would I believe take much pleasure from seeing the play, let us just say that we can all associate ourselves with many of the issues raised.

Director Beng Oh has a wonderful ensemble of three actors who play in a very naturalistic style taking us on a roller coaster ride, his direction is tight and extremely well layered, showing us both the highs and lows objectively.
The actors are Chris Bunworth as a very powerful yet complex Otto, Liz McCall as his wife Martha, very interesting performance this, as we see the changes that gradually take place with this character and Glenn van Oosterom as their young son Ludwig, a nicely restrained and beautifully balanced performance. We believed these three characters, they were real people with many dimensions.

The stage is divided into three acting areas, kitchen, sitting room and centre stage all other places depicted, scene changes are swift never allowing us to loose the thread and compliments to a diligent stage crew.

To sum up, it is a long play at approximately 3 hours –but act two does have a couple of scenes that appear a little repetitious however it is such a great piece of theatre that you can forgive this minor glitch, one question……. why have we not seen a production if “Tom Fool’ here in Australia before this?

So it is a big thank you to Hoy Polloy and Director Beng Oh for at last bringing it to us. Tom Fool continues at the Brunswick Mechanic Institute until the 23/5 Tues, to Sun – 8.15pm week nights and 5 pm Sun. you can book on 9016 3873

It is highly recommended for those who lean towards intelligent and dramatic theatre….

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