Brilliant Lies

(Brisbane Arts Theatre)


“To survive in the ’90’s you’ve either got to be lucky, rich or able to tell brilliant lies.” This quote from David Williamson is indeed the rationale behind the captivating and latest offering from Brisbane Arts Theatre.

Brilliant Lies is one of Williamson’s most successful works, abundantly produced on amateur and professional stages and recently on film. Focussing on a harassment case, it has much to say about family relationships and sexual and office politics. At the heart of the story is Susy (Jane Barry) who makes serious harassment allegations against her dodgy insurance broker boss Gary (Norman Doyle). Susy, who is after significant compensation, meets vehement opposition from Gary and will stop at nothing to ensure her wishes are met which creates an interesting dilemma for the audience: just who is telling the truth? Underpinning this is Susy’s family whose successes and subsequent failures create an interesting and often dark subplot.

There is much to like about this production, but most delightful is the talented cast who are consistently believable, natural and confident. Barry’s plaintiff is very well acted, maintaining a strong façade but allowing the fallibility of the character to peek through. Doyle captures the misogynistic sleazebag with suitable arrogance opposed by the confidence and clarity of Jennifer Godwin as mediation lawyer, Marion. Jane Cameron as Katy, Susy’s lesbian sister shines and adds much to the drama. Their strait-laced brother, Paul (Peter James) and crackpot father, Brian (William Davies) contribute with a humour and humility that is integral to the believability. Chris Carroll as Gary’s boss, Vince completes the cast.

Director Brenda White really hones in on the exploreable sections of the text, allowing for a scintillating production. The use of slideshows to segue into scenes is an ingenious and thoughtful touch.

The simple set works well, thoughtfully created by Griffith University art students. Of note is the mediation table which anchors the stage and creates an imposing presence. Lighting is on cue and suitable. One minor gripe is the costuming of Susy a little more promiscuity outside of the mediation room wouldn’t have gone astray.

Brilliant Lies is well handled by Brisbane Arts Theatre in all facets and it was a shame that on this Friday night the house was relatively empty. This is some good theatre, and that’s no lie!

— Grant Pegg
(Performance seen: Thu 8th May 2003)