The Daily Telegraph Mirror
August 18th, 1995
Reviewer: Stewart Hawkins
Stephen Sewell’s The Blind Giant Is Dancing is a play about power, corruption, sex and politics set in the heady days of Australia in the early 1980s.
It was a time when the trade unions still had considerable influence on the Labour Party and the dream of the socialist left still seemed a viable alternative to the inequalities imposed by capitalism.
The play is nothing short of a masterwork, a finely-wrought piece which features personal angst and the big-picture issues, that so much drama created n the ’90s seems to ignore.
Sewell’s portrait of Australia in the ’80s is bleak and pessimistic and the question we are forced to ask ourselves is: has anything changed?
Hugo Weaving plays Allen Fitzgerald, a socialist economist and union heavy, who not only has to come to terms with the morality of politics – a contradiction in terms – but also a personal struggle influenced by guilt and complex feelings toward his Jewish wife (Catherine McClements) and domineering, working-class father (Peter Carroll).
His brother Bruce (Jason Clarke) is a steelworker and one of the "Oppressed" Allen claims to be representing in the corridors of power.
Enter into the melee Rose Draper (Cate Blanchett), a beautiful financial journalist obsessed with power and powerful men – the result is dynamite.
The piece plays with the notion of freedom and the inevitable corrupting influence of power. It also questions whether honest labour is not an euphemism for slavery.
A production this engaging and exciting is rare, particularly with a cast so uniformly terrific.
Weaving takes control of the stage masterfully and Blanchett is sultry, sexy and seductive, providing an irresistible force which accelerates Allen on his road to moral destruction.
Simply and courageously designed, and incorporating a nostalgic soundtrack with numbers by Blondie and The Beatles, this production not only captures an era of Australian history, it also reflects the coming of age of politics in this country.
After disappointing productions of his trite and dull Gardens Of Granddaughters and the weakly structured Miranda, The Blind Giant Is Dancing – written about a decade ago – proves why Sewell is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest playwrights.