Silo Theatre's Boys will be Boys play offers a no-holds-barred view on sexual violence

By Paul Simei-Barton

Boys Will Be Boys cast  Lucinda Hare (left), Jodie Rimmer, Amanda Billing, Jennifer Ludlam and Vanessa Kumar. Picture / Supplied
Boys Will Be Boys cast Lucinda Hare (left), Jodie Rimmer, Amanda Billing, Jennifer Ludlam and Vanessa Kumar. Picture / Supplied

With a title that sounds uncomfortably close to the excuses offered up for the Chiefs' "Mad Monday" incident, Boys Will Be Boys delivers a searing indictment of how workplace culture can enable and support sexual violence.

The play brings a rigorously feminist perspective to the male-dominated world of high finance. While movies like The Wolf of Wall Street tread a fine line between glamourising and satirising the alluring lifestyles of the rich and powerful, Australian playwright Melissa Bubnic opts for a no-holds-barred demolition job.

The rarefied atmosphere inhabited by corporate elites is shown to be a joyless, dog-eat-dog world of ruthless power-plays and vicious bullying where every attempt to establish human intimacy is corrupted by financial imperatives.

A hint of glamour comes from Lucy Jane Senior's stylish costumes and Rachael Walker's sophisticated set design, which features an elegant array of venetian blinds opening onto ominously flickering LED screens.

The drama is cleverly integrated into a cabaret-style presentation with emotional renditions of torch songs delivered over Leon Radojkovic's grungy guitar-driven soundtrack.

Silo's artistic director, Sophie Roberts, has assembled a talented all-women cast who have a tough job eliciting sympathy for characters who are nasty, foul-mouthed and self-absorbed.

Amanda Billing, playing an embittered stockbroker, wins plenty of laughs with stinging put-downs of her colleagues and manages to show some vulnerability in her self-defeating attempt to buy the friendship of a prostitute.

Vanessa Kumar brings a feisty spirit to her portrayal of an ambitious newcomer and Jodie Rimmer convincingly expresses the seen-it-all attitude of a seasoned hooker.

Fine performances by Lucinda Hare and Jennifer Ludlum succeed in humanising characters that appear to be deliberate male stereotypes though the device of having women playing men seems like a clumsy way to focus attention on gender issues.

What: Boys Will Be Boys
Where: Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland, to September 24
Reviewer: Paul Simei-Barton

- NZ Herald

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