With great anticipation from his doting audience, David Williamson sat down to watch his final play ‘CRUNCH TIME’.  After 50 successful years as a playwright, he is retiring.

It’s strangely fitting that his final play should be about the grim reality of death.  Not only about dying with dignity, but family and sibling rivalry, a favourite theme of Williamson’s.

Director, Mark Kilmurry,  writes in the program notes, “The main theme stems from within the family nucleus so ‘CRUNCH TIME’ is also about parents and children, husbands and wives, betrayal and ultimately love.  It also happens to be very funny.”

Retired, high-flying businessman Steve (John Wood) – a sarcastic, no-nonsense, sports-mad kind of chap – has passed on the family business to his self-assured, philandering and smart-talking son, Jimmy (Matt Minto).

Sadly, he had to sack his nerdy, sweet but lacklustre eldest son, Luke (Guy Edmonds), an engineer, from the top job in order to favour Jimmy.  

Luke does not speak to his father for seven years.  His ambitious wife, Lauren (Emma Palmer), insists he make contact with his father again, lest they lose their large inheritance.  Luke does not care. Materialistic Lauren has had enough and leaves Luke to travel overseas.

Jimmy is expanding the family business with great aplomb, but when his beautiful and confident wife Susy (Megan Drury) discovers yet another of his infidelities, she tells him that enough is enough and she’s leaving him.  No going back, and Jimmy can’t convince her otherwise.

Steve’s loving and competent wife, Helen (Diane Craig), pushes her husband to have medical tests for discomfort he’s experiencing.  Helen calls the family to tell them that their dad has pancreatic cancer. Jimmy consoles his father.  

Kilmurry has assembled an excellent cast for this production.  They interact beautifully with energy and individuality. There is as much humour (very important in such a serious storyline), as joy, tenderness and disappointment.  Williamson has made sure of this, putting laughs in when needed.

Costumes by Lauren Peters were interesting, however I thought the set, the lounge room, was a little drab for such a successful business family and could have been more seductive.

Williamson should be proud of ‘CRUNCH TIME’ and its shifting family dynamics, and especially proud of an amazing output of plays spanning 50 years.  

‘CRUNCH TIME’ plays at the Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli, until 9th April, 2020.

On 23rd March, 2020, the Ensemble Theatre will celebrate with a special evening:  “50 years with David Williamson.”

Proceeds will go towards championing the next generation of Australian playwrights.  For more details, call the theatre on: 8918 3400.

Featured image : Diane Craig, Matt Minto, and  John Wood. Pic by Prudence Upton.