FACE TO FACE is one of David Williamson’s plays from his Jack Manning Trilogy. The Trilogy is based on community conferencing, where victims and perpetrators of a crime are brought together to attempt to achieve a resolution and to avoid the court process. This might sound like good and worthy material for a typical left wing Williamson play and it could be viewed as such but the sharp and intriguing dialogue lifts it to a higher level. As could be expected the boss is exploitative and the workers treated badly but these are secondary issues to the main drama.
Glen Tragaskis, in a catching performance by Andrew Cutcliffe, a young scaffolder who has been fired and then rams his car into the bosses Mercedes. A community conference is held to try and resolve the situation and avoid court and gaol. Jack Manning, in an excellent performance by Glenn Hazeldine, starts nervously as he facilitates the conference, but generally directs the conversation assuredly as various unexpected side issues emerge. Bullying and pranking are common practices at the scaffolding site and these lead Glen to reacting violently and consequently being fired. These issues are further investigated and explored in the conference and it emerges that just about all of the characters in the play have acted dishonorably or inappropriately.
Willamson is in his best form writing the heartfelt, emotional and witty dialogue. Sandra Bates’ direction utilises this fine writing to encourage strong performances from the talented cast.
Adriano Cappelletta is excellent as Luka, a workmate of Glen, involved but not a ringleader in the bullying. Jamie Oxenbould, Erica Lovell, Kristian Schmid, Catherine McGraffin, Warren Jones, Fiona Press and Jessica Sullivan each bring fine performances to the production.
There is a plenty to enjoy about Face to Face. It feels as if the conference could erupt into a wild brawl or an all out screaming match, or possibly proceed in the opposite direction and with excessive hugging and crying but Williamson’s well crafted script avoids melodrama and keeps the audience fully engaged.
FACE TO FACE, along with the other two plays of the Jack Manning Trilogy, A CONVERSATIONB AND CHARITABLE INTENT, is playing at The Concourse, Chatswood, until 27th September.