Photo – Brett Boardman

David Williamson just can’t help himself. Since announcing his retirement some years ago, first in 2005, then again in 2020, the plays keep coming.

The Great Divide is his latest, a David Williamson versus Goliath story, and, it seems, age has not wearied him nor the infinite variety we have grown accustomed from his zeitgeist pen.

The great divide in our current society, emphasised by the housing crisis and the degradation of unfettered development, is his target in The Great Divide, and he scores a bullseye.

Aspiration and avarice, the terrible twins, close bosom cousins of corruption and coercion, take centre stage, with Australia’s richest woman determined to develop an environmentally pristine but economically depressed area of the east coast.

The protagonist here is money, made incarnate by Alex Whittle, Australia’s richest woman. Shameless in her win at all costs philosophy, she has set her eye on turning sleepy Wallis Heads, a serf’s paradise, into a playground for the rich and fatuous.

Why should the losers, society’s effluent, have the golden beaches, sapphire seas, emerald bush land and diamond days. They belong to the affluent and her conniving cash splash influence will make it so.

She has already secretly bought up tracts of land and has the local council in her pocket. The great divide between the haves and have nots is set to get wider when an unassuming single mum shelf-stacker at the local supermarket decides to take a stand.

Mark Kilmurry’s production boasts a more than capable cast with Georgie Parker perfectly sharp of tooth and tongue as the heartless and soulless Alex Whittle, acquisitive capitalist queen.

As Alex’s nemesis Penny Poulter, the defiant blue collar worker taking on the blue ribbon bitch, Emma Diaz exudes both anger and anguish together with a steadfast belief in community and a ropey, frayed knot hope in democracy.

Caitlin Burley as her daughter, Rachel, brings all the teenage angst and rage that coalesces against the perceived parent’s failure to understand them.

Kate Raison exhibits a “grace under fire” presence as Alex’s pragmatic, put-upon personal assistant, Grace Delahunty, rational, resilient and not averse to revenge.

The men, James Lugton, as the editor of the local rag and John Wood, as the Wallis Heads Mayor are rock solid in their impotence and obsequiousness.

Event details

Ensemble Theatre presents
The Great Divide
by David Williamson

Director Mark Kilmurry

Venue: Ensemble Theatre | 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli NSW
Dates: 8 March – 27 April 2024
Bookings: www.ensemble.com.au

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