ON STAGE: Lyall Brooks stars in A Prudent Man, a show written and directed by Katy Warner.
ON STAGE: Lyall Brooks stars in A Prudent Man, a show written and directed by Katy Warner. CONTRIBUTED

Gripping tale of power on stage in A Prudent Man

YOU see them on TV, radio, in these very pages, speaking of the country, on behalf of our communities, brandishing power, convincing us they are one of us although they clearly belong to the elite: they are the powerful.

In A Prudent Man, writer and director Katy Warner has penned a show about what happens when the world of the powerful shifts, even of ever so slightly.

Seating solo on stage, actor Lyall Brooks plays The Man, a nameless character, a generic denomination, becomes the ultimate archetype. As such, it's generic and does not define everyone in real life, but the person before you is clearly identifiable, you have voted for them (or against them) more than once.

He is confident, and he has to: in his head, his life depends on it.

Brooks said the hour-long stage performance is a dark political thriller.

"It's a politician of some persuasion seating in a chair, answering questions nobody can hear being asked,” he said.

"Nothing is clear, it's up to the audience to slowly piece together what he might have done, and what were the consequences of his actions that he had to face.”

"There is some dark comedy in there, and some laughter I hear from audiences is from people who tend to laugh because they heard a political slogan they have heard before.”

It's hard to tell how much reality and fiction merge in this play, as a line, written long ago, becomes topical and funny.

"People always asks 'did you put that quote in because it was on the news yesterday?' but no, it's always re-inventing its topical nature,” he said.

"The line 'if we run humanity the way we play cricket' got people on stitches three weeks ago in Hobart, for obvious reasons, but that line has been in the play since it was written.”

The actor admitted this is the first time he has done a solo show of this kind.

"I've never done a monologue of this length before, which was nice, but I was very honoured that Katy (Warner) wrote this for me, I guess she knew I can play a bastard very well (laughs),” he said.

"I love playing a bastard! I love playing what most people see as a villain, and get into their skin and making them very human and sympathetic.

"I like getting the audience be on my side, feel sorry for me, until they realise what a monster the character is an then they feel terrible.”

But why is the man 'prudent', based on the title? Brooks said the word tends to have a positive connotation.

"You can call The Man prudent at the start of the show, he seems careful and caring,” he said.

"By the end of the show you can still call him prudent but more on a Machiavellian kind of way.”

  • At The Studio, Lismore City Hall, May 3-5, 7.30pm. Bookings from norpa.org.au.

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