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Melbourne Observer – Savages

Article published in the Melbourne Observer by Cheryl Threadgold.

fortyfivedownstairs presents the premiere of Patricia Cornelius’s powerful new play, Savages, until September 8, under the skilled direction of Susie Dee.

Four seemingly nice, everyday guys board a cruise liner for their trip of a lifetime.

However,  behind the facade of gaily coloured streamers,  a  luxurious shipboard lifestyle and pleasant chit-chat between mates, a foreboding discontent simmers between these fortyish men in mid-life crisis. The reality is that none can escape from their individual issues left behind, no matter how hard they try.

In masterly style, Cornelius uses rhythmic, at times poetic, dialogue to shift the men’s behaviour from pleasantly playful to predatory, then savage, while pulsating sound effects effectively create animalistic tension.

Each man recounts personal negative experiences with women and maybe this contributes to their horrid objectivity towards female passengers.  Alternatively, we are left to wonder if a pack-like mentality is unavoidable when a group of males spends time bonding together.

The great cast includes Lyall Brooks (George), Luke Elliott (Runt), James O’Connell (Rabbit) and Mark Tregonning (Craze), who all beautifully capture the twists and turns in their characters’ behaviour from upbeat and chatty to ugly and predatory.

Marg Horwell’s prominent set design comprises a large, sloping ship’s deck, providing an excellent performance space which also cleverly symbolises  the characters’ behavioural decline and feelings of emptiness in their lives.

The lighting design by Andy Turner and sound design by Kelly Ryall significantly contribute to the storyline’s palpable tension.

On a critical note, I felt the song When Man Loves a Woman could be shorter, to ensure sustaining the narrative’s raw edge.

Savages offers an intense, compelling theatre experience. Congratulations to all concerned on this new, first-class Australian drama.

Season: Until September 8

Times: 7.30pm Tues – Fri, 5pm and 8.00pm Sat, 5.00pm Sun.

Duration: 90 minutes with no interval

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

Tickets: $45 adults, $37.50 concession, $35 groups 6+

Bookings: 9662 9966 or



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