On The Production of Monsters
My interest in On The Production of Monsters was sparked as soon as I laid eyes on the short blurb. A young Melbournian couple become involved in a national scandal driven by the media – what could it be? In the days of Bill Henson, Muhamed Haneef and Craig Thompson, there could hardly be a more topical issue. Every day our newspapers seem to be in pursuit of some monster or another, and On The Production of Monsters does a marvelous job exploring the human impact of this relentless pursuit of a scapegoat for society's woes.
Ben, played by Green Room Award-winning James Saunders, and Shari, played by Virginia Gay of Winners and Losers and All Saints fame, are a twenty-something couple living in Melbourne's inner North. The multi-talented actors portray each and every character in the production – Ben's team leader, the reporter from the local Leader, the local school principal, the public relations whiz and the lawyer who come to Ben's aid, and her personal assistant. Gay in particular is excellent in her MTC debut as she competently juggles the production's three diverse female roles.
Upon entry to the Lawler Studio, the audience is confronted by a stark, bare stage. The set literally springs from this uninspiring platform, accompanying and defining the story as it unfolds. Shari is working on a local project engaging school students in cleaning up the waterways of the inner North, while Ben works for City Water. As Shari prepares for a rare piece of publicity for the project, an interview with the local newspaper, Ben decides to put her mind at ease by emailing her some inside information from his workplace. However, something goes very wrong, and before they know it the young reporter has broken a story which will soon cover the national press.
Touching on issues of censorship, privacy, and natural justice while remaining hugely entertaining, humorous, even sad, On The Production of Monsters will keep you thinking long after Saunders and Gay have left the stage. Playwright Robert Reid has delivered an excellent script, interpreted with class by director Clare Watson with the invaluable input of set designer Andrew Bailey.
The play provides the audience with space in which to reflect on how we all participate in the production of monsters, not to mention to realise with a little unease how easily we turn on each other and how, one day, it could be our turn. BY JOSH FERGEUS
On The Production Of Monsters runs at the MTC’s Lawler Theatre until Saturday June 9.