David Williamson wrote the Removalists in 1971, and in his typical fashion made an uncomfortable commentary about Australia At the Time. The removalists was adapted into a movie 4 years later, and has become a commonly used high school text.
The removalists is a story about violence, and its role in Australian society. We get to see the way that police and domestic violence can be a part of our every day lives that we don’t notice. Moreover, we to see how every character in the play tries to use violence to their own advantage, and pushes each to make a moral decision that is life changing.
Danny Adcock stars as Sergeant Simmonds, an veteran police officer at a small inner Melbourne police station, who is looking after Constable Ross (Dale March) on his first day out of the police academy. Adcock is terrific in the role. Adcock is authoritative on stage, and you feel that he has genuinely had the experiences as an officer that have caused him to have an unusual manner of enforcing the law. Simmonds says:
I have never made an arrest in all my twenty-three years in the force, Ross. If you ever get yourself into a situation that you can’t handle without making an arrest then you may as well get out.
And you understand that it’s true without questioning. Simmonds influence over Ross is clear in the actors dynamics, and the barren staging allows the actors to shine. Flower plays the inexperienced officer well, and you feel for him as he fumbles through his first day on the job to realise that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Ashley Lyons stars as the hapless Australian husband, the wife beater Aussie battler, who comes home one night to have his life turned upside down. Lyons is terrific, and is captivating as you begin to wonder who is actually the criminal on stage.
The play feels perfectly modern, despite being over 35 years old; The barren staging with fluorescent lighting in the police station is perfectly suited to develop the relationship we see between the police officers. The story of corruption and violence are timeless today, and you’re left wondering what goes on behind closed doors in any Australian home.