‘The Guys’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 6, 2013

‘The Guys’ is a play by Anne Nelson, an American journalist. The play had its debut in 2011 off-Broadway and starred Sigourney Weaver, before being presented in every US state and in all of the continents.

This daring Australian Premiere is being presented by Classic Works, and can be seen at ‘Black Box’ at The Crafty Swine, 8 MacEwan Street, West Leederville. The best parking is in Bermondsey Street. The 80-minute performances begin at 7.30 pm, and the season runs until 14th September.

 

The house lights dim. In the darkness we hear the strains of a bagpipe lament, backing the words of the Fire Department of New York’s Mission Statement.

The lights come on and we find ourselves in the comfortable home of Joan (Anna Bennetts). She explains how, after a long spell in Chile and Argentina as a journalist reporting on the suffering caused by the political Regimes, each day she is so grateful to feel the security of her home, her, husband and her two children.

Joan is preparing for the arrival of a local fire chief, Nick (Adam T. Perkins) who is in charge of a ladder truck that has lost eight of his men in the World Trade Centre disaster, and he wants help draw up meaningful eulogies.

 

The world has major disasters every day. Millions displaced in Syria, a new famine in Zimbabwe where a fifth of the population is expected to die. So when one is reminded of the 2,996 that died in the Twin Towers disaster it is shockingly easy to think – sad, dreadful even – but that was more than a decade ago and sadly for all too many the thought ‘I really must go and get more petrol for the car’ is of more importance. However, when one of your best friends dies in a car accident that is a real, major tragedy.

I must admit that this was a play that I attended partly as a ‘favour’ to those involved with the production. After all, the play is about a tragic crash that happened 12 years ago this week, in another country. I didn’t know anyone concerned, so really the producers are a bit late. HOW WRONG.

The importance of this superbly written play is that it is your friend’s tragedy, with all of the love, horrendous problems and heartbreak becomes multiplied by almost three thousand. The story brings to life, with a great deal of insight and humour, the eight men on the fire truck. You could hear a pin drop as the two magnificent actors invited us into the stories. Anna was superb as the journalist who knew extreme suffering from South America, and so interviewed the fireman with compassion and genuine interest.

When Adam’s character expressed his love of the men under him in a genuine caring way, it was because within hours of the towers collapsing, actor Adam became a first responder and he was on a plane flying to help the greatly diminished teams seek bodies in the rubble. After crawling through filthy dangerous places he stayed on in New York for another eleven years, and has only just returned to Perth, his place of birth.

Paula Coops after 20 years in the wings and bio box is a WA legend, now at last she is trying her hand at directing and what a wonderful, memorable job she has made.

This story is not depressing nor gratuitously over sympathetic; in fact it is uplifting to hear about the eight (0.04% of those killed), the camaraderie, their families and their quirky lives. Only now, after a decade, have I come to appreciate the real tragedy of the Twin Towers.

A special, emotional and unusual play for those who enjoy quality. It deserves to be seen.