Ruben Guthrie by Brendan Cowell
With Ruben Guthrie, Brendan Cowell has written a hard hitting play about one man’s battle with his addiction to alcohol. It is given a powerful, striking treatment in Wayne Blair’s current production of the play as part of Belvoir’s Company B season.
Cowell’s Ruben Guthrie is a memorable character. He is an extroverted,, sophisticated, successful late twenties Creative Director of an advertising director. He likes to live life by burning the candles at both ends. Then one day he decides that it is time to turn his life around when after one particularly late and very drunken night he falls off a hotel roof and finds that he is lucky to be alive. The following day he goes off to his first AA meeting.
Toby Schmitz is memorable as Guthrie. It is the best thing he has done since his work in the Nowra trilogy at the Stables theatre. Most of all he conveys the depth of the struggle his character is engaged in. Guthrie is a good time party guy and yet he is committed to beating his addiction despite it being available everywhere on the social scene.
Guthrie’s world is peopled by a quirky array of characters. They are well played by the supporting cast, blessed to have worthy roles to play. Geoff Morrell plays his hopelessly alcoholic father, Peter. Toni Scanlon is his insecure mum. Roy Billing is great as his pushy, garrulous boss. Adrienne Pickering is his temperamental model ex-girlfriend Zoya. Megan Drury is wonderful as the aggravating ex junkie, Virginia, who Guthrie befriends, and calls Ms Twelve Step, because she is a devotee of every twelve step program going. Torquil Neilson is excellent as Guthrie’s pushy long time gay friend, Damien.
Guthrie’s almighty struggle is wonderfully conveyed by Jacob Nash’s great set design where the walls of the stage are lined with bottles of alcohol, all lit up like the most modern bar. Steve Francis’s edgy score adds to the play’s
With this production of Ruben Guthrie Wayne Blair has come up with a first rate work of theatre.
Ruben Guthrie plays upstairs at Belvoir Street until the 5th July.