‘Charitable Intent’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by August 7, 2014

‘Charitable Intent’ is the third play in the ‘Jack Manning Trilogy’ by one of Australia’s most popular playwrights, David Williamson. He started writing the series in 2000 and finished the third – ‘Charitable Intent’ – in 2001. This series delves into the practice of community conferencing, whilst attempting to reach mutual resolutions to various disputes.

The first play of the trilogy was presented at Stirling Theatre, the second at The Old Mill and this final, 90-minute episode is now showing at KADS (Kalamunda Dramatic Society), Town Square Community Theatre, Kalamunda every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night at 8.00 until 9th August.

The exceptional set is of a carpeted corporate office, complete with water cooler, coffee trolley and several chairs. The walls are dove grey, with a royal blue feature wall showing the company’s logo. The set was solidly built and gave a very spacious appearance to the limited stage area. Set design was by Chris Ellis, who was aided in the décor by Karen Woodcock-Hall.

          The office door opens and the youngish, casually dressed facilitator, Jack Manning (Rhett Clarke) enters the meeting room of the charity organisation, ‘Enabling and Caring’. He arranges the chairs and just as he sits, two middle-aged women enter. They are frumpily dressed Amanda (Caroline McDonnell), Head of Programme Management, with her best friend and colleague, the project officer, Stella (Karen Woodcock-Hall).

        Feeling that they have been bullied and insulted at work, they have asked the Chairman of the Board, Brian (John Pomfret) for a conciliation meeting. Brian confirmed to the facilitator that his company was a charity, supporting intellectually disabled children and adults.

        When the old and supportive CEO left, the new ‘get-ahead’, perfectly groomed female CEO, Bridget (Gael Campbell-Young), replaced him. She is attending the meeting with her young clique, marketing manager Guilia (Kristen Twynam-Perkins) and young Cassie (Kassandra Smith) who has just taken over as financial controller from Amanda.

       As Jack settles down to interviewing the group, he nibbles away at the various versions of what has gone on, confirming various points with the company’s HR specialist, Tamsyn (Natalie Aung Tan).

 

Do the two women really have a genuine case of bullying? Or are they just jealous of the new CEO and her daring and exciting new ideas?

  

This topic is very much in the news, with legal cases almost every day for various forms of bullying and sexual harassment.

The cast were all very strong, but the two main characters, Amanda and Bridget were outstanding. The actors who played them were both very new to the stage; Caroline captured the withdrawn and nervous Amanda perfectly. It is hard to believe that Gael has only been acting for a few months. She had a major part with a complex character, yet the dialogue flowed naturally and with all the correct body movements and expressions. The audience could be heard to gasp on several occasions and the truth was revealed.

The director, Christine Ellis, took over the third part of the trilogy from her son. Brendan did an amazing job directing the first two parts. The direction called for real, in-depth character studies for each actor, with their lines being delivered with subtlety. The cast melded beautifully.

A little bit of a hike to Kalamunda, but well worth the trip. An excellent show, great script and terrific performances. Try and catch it before it goes.