Odd Man Out

Odd Man Out
By David Williamson. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 24 January – 18 March 2017

According to Wikipedia, this is the 48th play that David Williamson has unleashed upon us. Not to mention his 24 or so screenplays. Odd Man Out is due to run for two months at the Ensemble with many shows already booked out. And with news that his 2015 play Rupert could well be getting the Hollywood mini-series treatment, the 74-year-old playwright has never been more, well, hot.

Odd Man Out belongs to the growing group of Williamson plays dealing with ‘social psychology’. Here is a caring nurse Alice (Lisa Gormley) falling in love with a full-on Asbergers sufferer Ryan (Justin Stewart Cotta) – a computer genius with no capacity to play the niceties (and idiocies) of modern living.

In this mismatch made in Hell everything goes wrong. And it’s only at the half-way stage that Alice realises the dimensions of the task in front of her. She can cue him to do the right thing but he must at all times be receptive to her promptings.

In a plain acting area with six separate seats (designer Anna Gardiner), director Mark Kilmurry makes the action hurtle along and a dedicated cast join in. Lisa Gormley’s warm smile lights up the action and Justin Stewart Cotta presents a portrait of singular difficulty, a brilliant man without any capacity to join in daily life.

At other times, on a bus or at a restaurant, the stage appears packed with life. Rachel Gordon gives a good account of Alice’s bossy friend Carla, and Gael Ballantyne plays two mothers, Alice’s concerned Mum and Ryan’s deeply troubled Mum who says, with huge understatement, that ‘Ryan has difficulties with company.’

Lighting is particularly crucial and Christopher Page keeps the characters at all times separate.

It’s a touchy subject for light comedy but Williamson makes the most of things, packing the evening with plenty of laughs. Bring on his 50th!  

Frank Hatherley

Photographer: Clare Hawley.

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