Over the years, the Darlinghurst Theatre has staged some of the most dynamic, engaging and credible independent theatre productions this country has to offer.
From its confronting opening scene through to its brutally eye-opening conclusion, Alex Broun’s 10,000 Beers could proudly sit alongside any of them. The concept of the play is simple enough: An end of season footy trip, a pledge to drink 10,000 beers and the inevitable result that all goes wrong. But it is how Broun manages to pack in plenty of laughs, a whole heap of action and an investigation into the psyches of the typical football-playing male in between those dramatic opening and closing scenes that is the true class in this work. It would have been easy to simply make the play an over-emotional investigation into the secrets of the footy team at its centre, but Broun ensures that he doesn’t over-complicate the work, and allows it to be entertaining as well as confronting. The Panorama Pirates from Adelaide went through their rugby union season undefeated. Well, almost undefeated. They fell at the final hurdle, losing the grand final and robbing the club of its first title in 13 years. The team’s captain, Doug, failed to throw a crucial past that could have won the Pirates the game. But his team still sticks by him, and Doug remains in charge when the 27 players arrive in Sydney for their 10,000 beer challenge.What is ultimately revealed, however, is that the team don’t necessarily support Doug at all. And Doug has his own demons to deal with, as well. ?? 10,000 Beers is far from a sports play. But a sports fan will obviously appreciate it a little more, and it’s refreshing to see a play about rugby union that has some knowledge behind it (Broun is a former rugby union journalist). So often, plays attempt to throw sports references into the script, and fail dismally. As a non-sports fan, you’ll take the play one of two ways. You’ll either leave thinking that footballers are just broodish blokes with nothing between the ears, or you’ll understand a little more about how a team – or a group of any kind – is often bonded together by unspoken emotion. Sometimes, such unspoken emotion can be dangerous. The play boasts a strong cast of four – Gus Murray, Andrew Steel, Anthony Taufa and Matt Zeremes. All perform extraordinarily well, but Taufa and Zeremes’ performances are true standouts. 10,000 Beers is not necessarily a groundbreaking, never-been-done-before play. But it is a strong independent work, and one that will leave you with your mouth wide open in the final scene. Overall, it’s a sharp, one-act play that you won’t regret seeing. What you take out of it, however, will perhaps be very different from the person next to you.
Until 9 October
Darlinghurst Theatre Company