The Writers

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Writing’s hard enough - staring at a blank screen until your head bleeds, to coin a paraphrase. How much harder is it when you are perpetually being harassed by your idiot housemate?

That’s what Steven Stagg is trying to do in this brief play... a sort of Waiting For Godot in which ‘inspiration’ plays the part of the absent acquaintance. In voguish meta style, he’s trying to pen a putative comedy about a writer (‘a good bloke’) and the guy he shares flat with (‘a bit of dick’).

Not much writing gets done, of course. Stagg hasn’t many ideas while the distracting Stephen Curry, resplendent in awful denim cut-offs, has loads – all of them bad. Well, not all of them: he suggests making a cup of tea at one point.

But the rest his notions usually evoke some dreadful, old-fashioned stereotype, which is is where comedy veteran Bob Franklin comes in, making such clichés as the backwards country bumpkin Nobby Bollard flesh... and further keeping Stagg from his work.

Franklin draws on his British roots as well as his knack for subtle characterisation: the affectionately slow-witted Bollard is from England’s West Country; while his lascivious 70s Cockney lothario has an authentic obsession with ‘wall-to-wall dolly birds’. You can see him partying with Austin Powers.

The high-minded Stagg thinks such characters are lazy and dated, while Curry insists this is what the public wants, not sophistication. Sadly, real-world evidence seems to point Curry’s way.

Not that this is a show that’s trying to make a point. The primary raison d’etre seems to be for the three leads (who all had roles in the ABC series The Librarians) to try to make each other corpse. Stagg has to draw on deep reserves of stoicism as he’s fondled, provoked and teased by his tormentors... and largely manages to keep a straight face.

Instead the release comes via the audience, who find it hard not to giggle at such playfulness. There is a smattering of fine lines in the script, too, which suggests that if there was any writer’s block in real life, they got over it.

Ultimately, The Writers doesn’t amount to a great deal, but it’s 50 minutes or so of amusement from three guys who know what they’re doing, even when they’re arsing about.

Review date: 3 Apr 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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