A young policeman’s first day on duty becomes a violent and highly charged initiation into law enforcement. Remarkable for its blend of boisterous humour and horrifying violence, the play has acquired a reputation as a classic statement on Australian authoritarianism and is a key work in the study of Australian drama.
Constable Ross, a police constable on his first day of duty, and the cynical Sergeant Simmonds are drawn into a domestic dispute when two women come in to report a wife-beater. The officers arrange for a furniture removalist to come and take furniture from the flat of the woman's belligerent husband, and attend the removal themselves. The tension escalates when the husband, Kenny, knocks the removalist down and is subsequently beaten up by the police. The violence escalates as Kenny, who is handcuffed, is repeatedly assaulted while the others watch. It ends only when Constable Ross believes he has killed Kenny. The two policemen argue about the dire consequences, but Kenny regains consciousness and gets up.
Based on David Williamson's play (first staged at La Mama Theatre, Melbourne in 1971), the screenplay (including dialogue) closely follows the structure of the original story. The narrative is also set in the same two locations: a police station and a small flat.
Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 10 (NSW Stage 5) with possible extension into Years 11–12.
Australia, authority, domestic violence, love and loss, morals, Power, violence
Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Personal and social
First produced at the Cafe La Mama, Melbourne, 22 July 1971.
Director: Bruce Spence.
The play's first major season was at the Nimrod Street Theatre, Sydney, opening on 13 October 1971.
Director: Bruce Spence.
The world rights were purchased by Harry M. Miller Attractions: their production, opened at the Playbox Theatre, Sydney, on 10 August 1972.
Director: John Bell.
Broadcast on ABC Radio National on Sunday 23 January 2011 as part of the Playing the 20th Century series.
Performed at Bondi Pavilion, 22 May - June 15 2013.
Performed at Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm, 14-16 August 2014.
Performed at NIDA as part of their annual student productions.
Director: Elsie Edgerton-Till.
Cast drawn from final-year BFA Acting students.
Crew drawn from final-year BFA Costume, Properties and Objects, Staging, and Technical Theatre and Stage Management students, with students of the MFA Design for Performance.