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'The President' by Sydney Theatre Company Takes Audiences on a Provocative Journey of Power and Absurdity.

Updated: May 3

Originally penned by one of the most esteemed European writers comparable to luminaries such as Beckett and Camus due to his darkly comedic perspective, prophetic narrative style and at times controversial attitude towards actors, Thomas Bernhard's "The President," presented by the Sydney Theatre Company, is a captivating exploration of power dynamics, political absurdity, and human emotion that resonates with contemporary societal issues.

Set in an unnamed Western European nation, the play delves into the aftermath of an anarchist assassination attempt on the President and First Lady, resulting in the death of the President's ally and the First Lady's dog. Amidst this chaos, the characters navigate their personal obsessions, power struggles, and societal disconnect.

The thematic depth of the play is striking, blending elements of absurdity with poignant social commentary. Through the President and First Lady's narcissistic monologues and self-centered pursuits, the narrative reflects the challenges of leadership, the quest for power, and the often overlooked human emotions behind political facades.

The performances by Hugo Weaving and Olwen Fouéré as the President and First Lady, respectively, are impressively varied and exceptional, capturing the nuances of their characters physically and vocally with charisma and depth. The supporting cast also shines, contributing to the immersive and thought-provoking experience.

Director Tom Creed's creative vision, combined with the contributions of the talented creative team, enhances the play's atmosphere with dark lighting, evocative music, and a foreboding tone. While the play's repetitive nature and extended scenes may test the audience's patience at times, it ultimately adds to the emotional depth and impact of the story.

Overall, "The President" offers a compelling theatrical experience that delves into the complexities of human nature, the allure of power, and the blurred lines between reality and absurdity in today's world. It invites audiences to reflect on societal values, political dynamics, and the human cost of ambition, leaving a lasting impression long after the final curtain falls.


Words by AW.

Photo courtesy of Sydney Theatre Company.


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