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BWW REVIEW: THE APOLOGISTS Questions Whether Sorry Really Is Sorry In Three Short Monologues.


BWW REVIEW: THE APOLOGISTS Questions Whether Sorry Really Is Sorry In Three Short Monologues.

Thursday 21st January 2021, 7:30pm, Old 505 Newtown

Gabrielle Scawthorn reprises her solo performance in THE APOLOGISTS to bring the trio of tales to the Sydney stage. Under Jane Moriarty's direction, this production, which was first staged at London's Omnibus Theatre in March 2020, has arrived to prompt Sydney audiences into considering whether apologies are really acts of contrition or merely defense statements.

THE APOLOGISTS comprises of three distinct monologues all presented by a single performer. Scawthorn takes on the roles of Louise, Holly and Sienna as she gives voice to Iskandar Sharazuddin's EXCUSES, Cordelia O'Neill's SEVEN, THE SWEETEST HOUR, and Lucinda Burnett's NEW UNIVERSE. For each story, a central powerful woman is faced with the conflict of being asked to apologize by the public and whether she can truly say sorry and mean it. For EXCUSES, Louise is the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care questioning how her achievements can be wiped away with one ill considered comment. The emotionally distant Holly is caught between her editor's attempts to try to hide her from the public response to the aftermath of an article she wrote that was less than charitable to a vulnerable woman and her own doubts as to liability. Only real victim of the trio Sienna shows a different side of the Apologist's actions as someone desperately wanting to stop those with power from blame shifting and distancing themselves from responsibility.

The design of the staging and costuming have a simplicity that allows enough of a transformation between characters for the audience to fill in the gaps of their impressions of the characters Scawthorn takes on. A buttoned-up blouse and suit jacket give Louise a formality while red boots convey the image conscious element of influencer Holly and comfortable cardigan and sensible loafers capture the down to earth and caring nature of Aid worker Sienna. A plywood square forms a feature of the black box stage and a chair and lectern form the only set dressing allowing variety in the use of the stage while keeping the focus on Scawthorn. Saul Valiunas' lighting design adapted by Kate Baldwin for the Australian production allows for the impression of media cameras, shifting daylight and different locations. Rob Donnelly-Jackson's sound design helps define locations and the underlying energy and emotion.

Scawthorn's versatility is showcased in this work as she transforms between the three distinct storytelling styles and the range of characters that include a series of minor characters to complement the three central players. She expresses the women's inner conflict that therefore exposes the degree of sincerity of the apologies that each is forced to make.

THE APOLOGISTS in an intriguing examination of why people say sorry, if they really mean it and if it is more a defensive statement than genuine expression of remorse. This work has a currency and relevance in a modern era when many influential people are put in positions where they are told to apologize but the general public remain skeptical as to their belief that it is genuine.

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