When Dad Married Fury – Glen St Theatre

When you think David Williamson, you think tense drama and bar room blue language. Here with When Dad Married Fury he brings us a 21st century generational dilemma – living with the consequences of risky decisions.

Challenged by the decision to celebrate his 70th birthday back in Australia, Alan Urquhart (played by the genial John Wood), readies for a battle of wills with his sons Ian (David James) and Ben (Drew Tingwell). Change is in the form of their inheritance is on the table, with the knowledge of dad’s new wife marrying without a pre-nuptial clause.

John Wood.
John Wood.

Enter the wives: Sue, the Uni lecturer and self-confessed cause champion, who has recently lost her father, and Laura the lawyer, Ian’s irascible spouse, and adroit adjutant at the celebratory stoush.

And it’s quite a kitty, all 9 figures in round terms. Ian and Ben agree to be cool when talking about money. Neither can keep that agreement, and it frames a central theme of the play. What we discover is that their parent’s marriage was a sham, suffering from duty driven to deceit.

Keeping the sub-plot alive is Laura’s mum, who wails at her woes. She blames Alan for her husband’s investment misfortune, and she and Laura are determined to exact full measure from Mr Urquhart. It’s interesting that women can exact terms of settlement, where the sons cannot.

Language aside, this work is a domestic comedy, with Williamson’s strong political and social commentary rising out of the character’s exchanges. No dancing around political correctness, Ian and Ben are contrasted by their polar views on business, and yet Ben displays a weakness for just a little of his brother’s luxury. Perhaps Ian’s responses are more consistent, as Ben (Drew Tingwell) lacks the dimension of his brother’s hearty persona.

John Wood is the lion in this family feud, with a strong performance in a difficult central role. His exchanges with the tigress Fury (Annie Last) are definitely a highlight. Both of them have significant reserves of energy, and the drama seesaws between the pragmatic and polemical.

As John Wood said, it’s essentially about greed, but we see love in action from Fury, as she comes to terms with her husband’s absent moral compass.

At the end, money is not what connects the family, but committed relationships.

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