Steve McCall’s Artrage Theatre Award nominated black comedy about a marriage in crisis tells the tale of Jeremy and Daphne Pluck who have decided to give their union another try, following Jeremy’s little ‘indiscretion’ with a co-worker. On their way home from their first dinner back as a couple, the Plucks are mugged in a park. Daphne’s family heirloom necklace is stolen. She’s mad – Jeremy should’ve protected her.
McCall’s neat 50 minute script essentially explores ideas of power, and how those in positions of power justify how they maintain those positions. “The characters are always jostling to be top dog whatever their relationship to each other. That struggle is what interests me most,” says McCall. “The characters existed well before the story. I knew these characters would work best in a heightened, madcap world.”
Pluck! had its inaugural performance in 2013 as part of Perth’s Fringe World. In fact, the play itself was born out of the necessity to create a fringe show plus all the trimmings: a limited cast, a small stage, and the ability to tour if possible; these were the parameters McCall decided upon prior to writing. The play is inspired by the Pythons and the surreal writings of Irvine Welsh and “definitely inform the world of ‘Pluck!'”
McCall is originally from Glasgow Scotland but spent much of his early years in Perth. He studied Performance Studies and Creative Writing at the Hayman Theatre at Curtin University, and is a graduate of the WA Screen Academy’s screenwriting and directing course. Other writing includes: City of Cranes and screenplays, The Actress, The Toll, Reserved Seats for the Plain and Unconscious and The Enemy on the Wall. McCall has been writing stories since high school and has continued writing – ‘for better or worse’ – ever since.
“When I was a wee boy, my uncle’s brother, Bill Jesse, wrote a film called ‘Riff Raff’, which my family in Glasgow had taped off the BBC and sent to my parents after we’d immigrated to Perth. When I was old enough to watch and understand the film, and knowing a member of the family had written it, I realise now how he and the film were hugely formative inspirations.”
McCall admits to not having a specific style and says that style can change depending on the project. “The only way a playwright can continue to evolve is by writing and keep writing, McCall offers. “If you don’t do this, if you don’t allow yourself the space to try and test, you cannot develop your craft. Ultimately, it depends on collaboration and working with people you trust. Finding those people is key, and I’ve been lucky enough to forge those collaborations in Perth – where the play had it’s first fringe season two years ago – and, now, with the Sly Rat mob. You need those collaborators to push you because you can’t create theatre in a vacuum.”
The ‘Sly Rat mob’ is Sly Rat Theatre who are excited to be bringing McCall’s work to life at The Butterfly Club opening June 30.
With its staging of McCall’s play, the company continues its tradition of offering a strange and heady concoction of comedy and edge. The play is being directed by Sly Rat Theatre’s co-founder and NIDA graduate Alan Chambers who says: “It’s going to be a fun night out. Laughs, a bit of blood … It’s a tale about a couple who reignite their passion for each other through blood and gore. What’s not to love? It’s also being told by a group of Melbourne’s finest actors – Brendan Ewing, Todd Levi, Michaela Bedel, Lee Quek and Walter Hanna.”
Will Jeremy Pluck ultimately become the ‘man’ Daphne wants and needs? – the only way to know is to come to the show. Says McCall: “Pluck! is a story about men and women, sex and death, marriage and infidelity, guns and ducks. Did I also mention it’s funny?”
June 30 – July 5