Brilliant Lies

David Williamson perceives himself as an Australian dramatist seeking primarily to entertain as he reflects on contemporary behavior. His critics prefer to dig deeper, focusing on weighty social and moral issues.

With:
Marion - Christine Amor Susy - Miranda Otto Vince - Peter Adams Gary - Chris Betts Katy - Genevieve Lemon Brian - Ray Barrett Paul - Rhett Walton

David Williamson perceives himself as an Australian dramatist seeking primarily to entertain as he reflects on contemporary behavior. His critics prefer to dig deeper, focusing on weighty social and moral issues. Like British counterpart Alan Ayckbourn, Williamson has become his country’s most popular playwright not just through “a talent to amuse” but also by affording audiences a second — if occasionally superficial — look at themselves.

He based his last play, “Money and Friends,” on a late 1990s reaction to the “greed is good” decade by posing a disturbing hypothesis: How would you respond to a friend’s financial disaster? This obviously translated well enough across the Pacific to tweak collective psyches successfully in Los Angeles, where it ran recently.

By that yardstick “Brilliant Lies,” with its theme of sexual harassment in the workplace, should have global appeal. Susy (Miranda Otto), a young office worker, has accused her gung-ho boss Gary (Chris Betts) of prolonged harassment culminating in a clumsy piece of physical molestation. She takes the case to an arbitrator under Australia’s Equal Opportunity Act, demanding $ 40,000 compensation.

The protagonists seem crudely defined at first, their conflict over-simplified, but Williamson is deliberately snaring us in our own gender prejudices. Susy’s clothes are bright and clingingly provocative; her behavior selfish, promiscuous and manipulative.

Gary, an aggressive, macho stereotype with an oversupply of testosterone, has a reputation for forcing himself onto a succession of female employees.

Who is to be believed? It is up to the arbitrator, Marion (Christine Amor), to decide. Williamson muddies the water further by complicating the nature of the combatants’ relationship, and by revealing through sister Katy (Genevieve Lemon) that Susy is a compulsive liar, and that their father, Brian (Ray Barrett) also has much to answer for.

Director Mellor achieves a satisfying resolution after a sequence of rapid scenes involving disciplined movements around the green-partitioned set. The veteran Barrett commands the stage in his all-too-brief appearances, while Lemon and Otto are convincing as sisters with different sexual preferences.

Brilliant Lies

Playhouse, Victorian Arts Center, Melbourne; $A33 ($22) top

Production: A Melbourne Theater Company presentation of the RQTC (Queensland) production of a play in two acts by David Williamson. Directed by Aubrey Mellor.

Creative: Sets, Dale Ferguson; lighting, David Walters; assistant director, David Berthold; MTC production coordinator, Ian Cooksley; stage manager, Stafford Mortensen; assistant stage manager, Lea Trowbridge. Opened May 29, 1993.

Cast: Marion - Christine Amor Susy - Miranda Otto Vince - Peter Adams Gary - Chris Betts Katy - Genevieve Lemon Brian - Ray Barrett Paul - Rhett Walton

More Legit

  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

    'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' Stage Musical in the Works

    David Williamson perceives himself as an Australian dramatist seeking primarily to entertain as he reflects on contemporary behavior. His critics prefer to dig deeper, focusing on weighty social and moral issues. Like British counterpart Alan Ayckbourn, Williamson has become his country’s most popular playwright not just through “a talent to amuse” but also by affording […]

  • Joe Morton

    Joe Morton, Daphne Rubin-Vega Among Rebel Verses Guest Performers (EXCLUSIVE)

    David Williamson perceives himself as an Australian dramatist seeking primarily to entertain as he reflects on contemporary behavior. His critics prefer to dig deeper, focusing on weighty social and moral issues. Like British counterpart Alan Ayckbourn, Williamson has become his country’s most popular playwright not just through “a talent to amuse” but also by affording […]

  • The Lehman Trilogy review

    London Theater Review: 'The Lehman Trilogy,' Directed by Sam Mendes

    David Williamson perceives himself as an Australian dramatist seeking primarily to entertain as he reflects on contemporary behavior. His critics prefer to dig deeper, focusing on weighty social and moral issues. Like British counterpart Alan Ayckbourn, Williamson has become his country’s most popular playwright not just through “a talent to amuse” but also by affording […]

  • elizabeth perkins First Time in Variety

    Elizabeth Perkins on Her Early Film, Stage Roles

    David Williamson perceives himself as an Australian dramatist seeking primarily to entertain as he reflects on contemporary behavior. His critics prefer to dig deeper, focusing on weighty social and moral issues. Like British counterpart Alan Ayckbourn, Williamson has become his country’s most popular playwright not just through “a talent to amuse” but also by affording […]

  • 'Mary Page Marlowe' Review: Tatiana Maslany

    Off Broadway Review: 'Mary Page Marlowe'

    David Williamson perceives himself as an Australian dramatist seeking primarily to entertain as he reflects on contemporary behavior. His critics prefer to dig deeper, focusing on weighty social and moral issues. Like British counterpart Alan Ayckbourn, Williamson has become his country’s most popular playwright not just through “a talent to amuse” but also by affording […]

  • Bruce Springsteen on Broadway

    Bruce Springsteen Plays First-Ever Encore at Broadway Show (Watch)

    David Williamson perceives himself as an Australian dramatist seeking primarily to entertain as he reflects on contemporary behavior. His critics prefer to dig deeper, focusing on weighty social and moral issues. Like British counterpart Alan Ayckbourn, Williamson has become his country’s most popular playwright not just through “a talent to amuse” but also by affording […]

  • Orphan Black

    Listen: Tatiana Maslany Would Do an 'Orphan Black' Reunion on One Condition

    David Williamson perceives himself as an Australian dramatist seeking primarily to entertain as he reflects on contemporary behavior. His critics prefer to dig deeper, focusing on weighty social and moral issues. Like British counterpart Alan Ayckbourn, Williamson has become his country’s most popular playwright not just through “a talent to amuse” but also by affording […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content