The potentially destructive relationship between young women and footballers is explored in In The Club, a new play from Australian playwright Patricia Cornelius.
The 80-minute play, on stage at Melbourne’s Theatre Works, centres on three women, Annie (Eva Seymour), Ruby (Michelle Perera) and Olivia (Brigid Gallacher) and their experiences with Australian Rules footballers.
The play opens with the audience learning about the women. Up until an extremely traumatic experience with footballer Shaun (Ras-Samuel), Annie was a confident, AFL-loving teenager.
Olivia knows nothing about football she just wants to have a meaningful and loving relationship.
According to Ruby she loves sex and doesn’t want to be in a relationship although this may be a defensive reaction because it’s obvious a previous traumatic encounter has influenced her outlook on sex and love.
The play then moves to a nightclub and the three women’s interactions with Shaun and two of his team mates Angus (Darcy Kent) and James (Damien Harrison).
Annie, who is still traumatised by her encounter with Shaun, has to deal with the anger and hostility of the three footballers towards her. James seemingly finds Ruby’s claims she just wants to have sex and a good time confronting given his aggressive attitude and commentary on her actions.
Olivia believes she has found someone she can really love in Angus with disastrous consequences.
The interactions between the three footballers provide an insight into their thoughts and attitudes towards the women they come in contact with.
In explaining her reasons for writing In the Club Cornelius writes:“Who wouldn’t want to take on the footy world and its intractability in addressing the too numerous accounts of sexual abuse.
“The behaviour of young sportsmen is often not only shocking but also criminal and yet it remains unaddressed as does the abusive behaviour of many Australian men.”
Before the play begins an announcement states counselling is available after the show for anyone who may be impacted by issues raised.
Together with Cornelius’ dialogue, the heartfelt and excellent performances of Seymour, Perera and Gallacher add to the play’s realistic feel.
Music from Jaguar Jonze’s debut album Bunny Mode, which was written throughout her advocacy for survivors of abuse, sexual harm and harassment that plague the music industry, adds to the reality, as does clever audio-visual usage. As a result, In The Club is at times difficult to watch but is certainly thought provoking.
In The Club is playing at Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street St Kilda until November 11. Visit the Theatre Works website for more information and tickets.
*Photo credit: James Reiser.
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of In The Club as a guest of the production company.
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