For voters and consumers of hidden political agendas, The Prudent Man is a real eye-opener. Writer and Director Katy Warner’s provocative play, probes into the political machine and “man”.
Multiple Green Room nominee Lyall Brooks (The Prudent Man), gives an astounding, all-consuming performance at Gasworks Arts Park, Studio Theatre. The “man” is far removed from being anything but prudent, he sit’s centre stage and tells his version of events.
In the absence of his political advisors, the man attempts to tell a truthful story. Brooks sits back smugly, tilts his head and gives a well-rehearsed campaign grin to the “people” (the audience), in an attempt to display genuine concern for the public. His comfortable demeanor soon unravels and the spotlight seems to take on an interrogation role.
The man starts to tell a story about dressing for his daily walk and his youthful appearance then breaks off into an internal dialogue, as if he were conferring with his advisors. His fingers twitch subconsciously and he switches back to his confident persona, reminding the people of his “49.7 percent” majority vote in the last election.
The spotlight bears down on him and nervous perspiration develops on his forehead. He discusses the importance of being “seen” on his walk and remembers his campaign script. “Smile at the people passing by and have a conversation with at least one person.” All the while he fidgets, shifts in his chair and repeatedly straightens his tie.
Warner’s insightful language alludes to various political characters’ from the Menzies era and recent Prime Ministers. The man exaggerates the exploits of his political career and loudly spurts out “that was before the incident” and immediately changes the topic. He grins, regains his composure to express the necessity of upholding suitable conduct, whilst on vacation at the seaside.
The man desperately tries to appear human and explains the stress of living in the public eye. He returns to talk of his daily constitution, walking along the beach, where he comes across a vicious colony of seagulls. The story brings to mind a childhood memory of a disturbing family dinner. He recalls standing upon his chair, fork held towards the ceiling, his family cheering him on, and the obvious origins of his political aspirations. The seagulls turn on a weaker individual, the man wavers and he backtracks to the original story and the importance of “standing up” on all occasions.
Warner explores politically incorrect behaviour and has cleverly embedded past and current themes. An informed audience of a recent Australian political figure’s faux pas; will delight at Brooks blend of sarcasm and arrogance. He wipes a deluge of perspiration from his brow, smooth’s back his disheveled hair, and suggests the absurdity of his alleged “inappropriate touching”. He shrugs off the “slight flick” of a female barista’s ponytail and switches the subject to the sanctity of marriage and his two daughters, followed by an alarming outburst.
The man’s ‘tangent talking’ and the repetitive narrative of flashbacks in the storyline may confuse the most ardent audience. Warner’s astute and fictional work is based on facts, imagination and or cover-ups, you must decide?
Warner and Brook’s together have created a powerful and emotional one-man show that travels up and down a rollercoaster with sinister turns and fatal dips. Brooks accuracy in his delivery of the fast and frenetic dialogue will leave you breathless.