BWW Reviews: Conflict-Light BARASSI Loses Interest, Even With Hard-Working Cast
Sport and theatre collide in this biographical depiction of AFL legend Ron Barassi written by Tee O'Neill and directed by Terence O'Connell. The play is long...too long, with very little conflict to keep you interested. The cast tries hard and is aptly led by Jane Clifton as narrator, Melba, a fanatical Collingwood supporter who commentats on both the action and the statistical facts of the time. Steve Bastoni as Barassi, whos monologues as the inspirational coach of Carlton, North Mebourne and Melbourne are perfectly executed and Matt Parkinson as Norm Smith, whose calm and effortlessness are particularly resfreshing for a show whose cast are trying too hard throughout to save it. Special mention to former AFL footballer Russel Robertson who provides a sea of highlights in his featured ensemble role.
The piece is particularly bitty, there is no flow or continuinty and there are moments throughout where pages of banal script could have been cut. The closing scene between Barassi and his dead father is closer to comedy than tragedy in its delivery and there were dropped lines and cues from ensemble throughout the performance.
The plays biographical insight and informative nature are its highlights, however, this is not enough for a two act, two and a half hour play. With some re-writes, it would more aptly sit in the tele-movie or short TV series genre. The choreography was laboured and the miming of footballs throughout slowed the pace of the play. Real footballs could have enhanced the excitement of the show and kept the energy of the cast and audience up for greater periods of time.
Take your Father or Grand Father to this show if they love the Melbourne Football Club and or grew up in the times of Ron Barassi. For anyone else, this show is a push.Even for this self-proclaimed football lover, Barassi the Stage Show was tough to endure.
Barassi plays the Atheneaum Theatre in Melbourne.