Jessica Sullivan, Persia Blue, Chloe Bayliss and Noel Hodda. All images: Clare Hawley.



Charitable Intent, by David Williamson | Directed by Sandra Bates

Ensemble Theatre | The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood, Sydney | Until 27 September

I didn’t see Face to Face, the first part of David Williamson’s The Jack Manning Trilogy, which currently being revived by Ensemble Theatre at Chatswood’s bright new The Concourse.

So I obviously can’t comment on that play, but I have seen the other two parts and found a quite different feeling in them, despite the fact that both are concerned with resolution of conflict through the intermediary efforts of Jack Manning (Glenn Hazeldine).

In the second part, The Conversation, which I reviewed about a week ago (READ REVIEW), I really couldn’t find any of the participants clearly wearing a black hat, to use an analogy from the old-fashioned westerns.

Sure, there was plenty of conflict, plenty of fluidity in positions, and some quite startling revelations, but the only obviously evil person wasn’t on stage.

In Charitable Intent, however, it was very easy to dislike Bryony (Catherine McGraffin), the chief executive of a major charity that helped people who were in various ways disabled.

She was such an unpleasant workplace bully that I found it difficult to include her in my thoroughly appreciative applause at the end of the performance.

And she managed to effectively alienate everyone else in Manning’s session — Cassie (Chloe Bayliss), Stella (Ally Fowler), Tamsyn (Persia Blue), committee heavyweight Brian (Noel Hodda), Amanda (Fiona Press) and Guilia (Jessica Sullivan), even those who had initially sworn blind what an innovative, refreshing part of the team she was.

It was a very strong performance all round, and I particularly loved the Catch 22 nature of Manning’s summation — organisations will readily give the likes of Bryony a glowing reference, simply because they’re so pleased to be rid of her. And so the cycle of bullying and abuse goes on.

Alexandra Fowler, Fiona Press and Glenn Hazeldine.

Catherine McGraffin and Noel Hodda.