By Jessica Leafe
Sydney, 2003. Two rivalling Australian media giants are each handing the reigns over to their sons, along with their advice on women, business and taking over the world. What follows is a huge financial blunder, a number of backstabbings, and a convulsive outbreak of the smug and slimy goings-on of the lives of the financial elite.
Nearly ten years on from their original and recurring seasons in 2005 and 2006, Darlinghurst Theatre Company bring back The Young Tycoons to a new beautiful space at the Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst. The play’s writer, CJ Johnson, and director, Michael Pigott, affirm that the play is still set in its original time of 2003, saying that “it could not exist now, precisely because of how much it is set then”, but have nonetheless used events since then to add some more sharply truthful stings to the humour.
The cast are all very good in each of their characters’ disgustingness. The two media godfathers, Liam Warburton and Ted Vogler, respectively played by John Turnbull and Laurence Coy, are each the overbearing and bent heads of their empires. The macho Vogler is preparing his keen but dim son Kim (Edmund Lembke-Hogan) for running the game while the hardened and bitter Warburton breaks in his more polished but equally rookie son, Trevor (Andrew Cutcliffe). The question of marriage lurks in the background for both heirs, but their prospective wives-to-be, Kim’s model girlfriend Sally (Paige Gardiner) and Trevor’s more scrupled Sherilyn (Gabrielle Scawthorn) are written more as catty stereotypes of their roles compared to the more developed male characters.
Much of the comedy plays around family relationships, especially with the sons and their rookie naivety and friendly rivalry. Amongst the ruthless business shenanigans, sexual transactions and financial tantrums, the ever-bent journalist (James Lugton) scurries between his sources on both sides: Warburton’s discarded long-time colleague (Terry Serio) and Vogler Junior’s press secretary (Briallen Clarke). These three particular performances take the cartoonish element out of the play and restore some authenticity to the characters, while Lembke-Hogan and Cutcliffe deliver their roles as the empires’ sons flawlessly and bring the main comedy.
Making clear references to the Packer and Murdoch families, The Young Tycooons plays on scandal to satirise the world of Australia’s media big-timers, and their rich and debauched lives. However, the play does not reach the peaks of ridiculous in terms of dialogue and comedy, and is reliant upon its well-cast actors to keep the humour coming.
Delivered skilfully and snappily, the production gives an entertaining portrayal of recent Australian history and the interacting relationships involved.
The Young Tycoons is currently playing at Eternity Playhouse until 15 June.
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