The Sydney Theatre Company’s new production is ‘Amigos’, the latest play by Australia’s most successful playwright, David Williamson.
In 1968 a group of four young Aussie rowers won a bronze medal at the Mexico Olympics. The locals dubbed the team ‘the Amigos’ because they were such a close knit and happy bunch.
A couple of decades later, the three remaining Amigos have one of their rare meetings. They have taken very different paths in life, Dick (Tony Llewelyn-Jones) is a heart specialist, Jim (Gary Day) is a wealthy banker, and Stephen (Gary McDonald) is one of society’s drop-outs.
There have been some telling body blows to the friendship over the years. The play’s dramatic tension comes from answering the question whether there remains a genuine friendship between the remaining Amigos or are they just living in the past?!
I wasn’t a fan of ‘Amigos’. The main reason was that I found the plays’ characters largely unsympathetic. There was no-one I really cared about.
The male characters were a bit nightmarish, and so materialistic and competitive. Williamson wrote that he wanted to write about male friendship, but these men were too busy social climbing to worry about maintaining good friendships!
Merchant banker Jim was the main character, and I found him so unlikable. He dumps his long suffering wife for a younger woman…He judges everyone by material success…He doesn’t help out Stephen, the poor Amigo, when he needs money to pay for his son’s cancer operation. And the main reason he has organized the reunion is to try and persuade Dick to consider him for the Australia Day Honors’ List as he is on the Board.
Williamson decided that his main character should do a U Turn at play’s end, and become a wholesome, giving person. I didn’t buy the change!
The wonderful Tony Llewelyn-Jones played heart surgeon Dick. Dick was a better quality character but also not very endearing. He was too insipid and wouldn’t stand up to Jim’s transparent manipulations. His sordid exploits with escort women in his twenties didn’t endear him either.
Gary McDonald played the character of the ‘poor Amigo’ Stephen. He doesn’t arrive on stage till just prior to interval. Stephen seemed more like a writer’s device than a flesh and blood character. His entrance starts with him planning to dump on Jim and Dick in his book exposing the real Amigos.
Stephen doesn’t have the courage to follow through on the expose, but at least he has a less materialistic approach to the world.
The female roles were not particularly dynamic or interesting. Both women, Hilary and Sophie, play women who have become involved with their bosses.
Natasha Elisabeth Beaumont plays Sophie who was Jim’s personal assistant before becoming his partner. Of the roles, Beaumont’s role is the most colorful, and she plays it well.
Sophie is a sexy young woman but there’s a brain ticking over fast. She’s also independently wealthy.
Rounding out the cast was Wendy Hughes as Dick’s wife, Hilary. One of our finest actors Hughes really had little to do. She just had to play whiny!
Jennifer Flowers competently directed the production.