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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

The Long Game, at Theatre Works' Explosives Factory - 80 minutes

It is a cliché to say politics is a dirty game.


Suffice to say, The Long Game takes that truism and overlays it with the glass ceiling.


Just what do women do or need to do to get to the top and what have men done since time immemorial and gotten away with?


I am not out to bash men or paint women as saints, but reflect upon these questions historically … and, I am afraid to say, even today.

Photos by Jodie Hutchinson

Think no further than the long-running Brittany Higgins/Bruce Lehrmann allegations and truths, and the trials and tribulations surrounding them.


Writer Sally Faraday has said carpe diem (seize the day) to produce the incendiary play.


Fictitious “yes”, but considering what we know about the real world, could it be fact? That is certainly something to ponder as you exit the Explosives Factory.


Gaye (Gloria Ajenstat) knows politics from the inside. She reveled in it and still does. After all, her husband, Richard – who died in the 1990s – was a federal pollie.

So, too, his mate Byron, a former Opposition leader (who we never meet but is constantly referenced in the play).


He is a man with whom Gaye was having an affair, one that has continued since her husband’s passing.


Suddenly, on her doorstep, is her estranged older daughter Esme (Petra Glieson), whom she hasn’t seen in four years.


An alcoholic, who always had a prickly relationship with Gaye and doesn’t run with the pack, Esme has now been sober for two years.

How long is she back for? She doesn’t know. Circumstances will determine that.


She wasn’t exactly tight with her younger sister, Miranda (Charmaine Gorman), either.


Miranda, single and in her early 40s, has political ambition. She wants a senior cabinet position in the next government.


She has leverage to make that happen, which, thus far, she has kept to herself. It is a dirty sexual secret. So, is she prepared to pull the trigger. Indeed, is her recollection accurate?

Esme lost her virginity in strangely similar circumstances. How would their mother react if she knew the whole truth?


Boom. The Long Game explodes onto the stage and keeps you guessing as you piece together all the threads.


Importantly, it doesn’t neatly tie up everything. It leaves it to us to form our own opinion.


It is a bold piece of writing, cleverly conceived and executed.


You need to concentrate to take it all in.

It is tawdry and tantalising. Figuratively, I felt like taking a shower afterwards because it presents a decidedly ugly picture.


This is a family used to a scrap. None of the three is prepared to back down.


The performers bring to life the wheeling and dealing inherent in the political cauldron.


All do so with conviction, as the focus shifts from one to another throughout, each having their moments to shine.

The dynamic becomes a combat sport in and of itself, a slugfest in which all take hits and give as good as they get.


Pacing is an important ingredient and director Krystalla Pearce and co-director Alkisti Pitsaki keep the action moving, with revelations and political plotting aplenty.


The Long Game spoke to me.


It served to reinforce all the negative sentiment many, including me, have about politics and how much harder it is for women.

So deeply entrenched is the dog each dog culture and the exploitation, the question is: will it ever change? I fear not.


Eighty minutes without interval, The Long Game is playing at Theatre Works’ Explosives Factory until 13th July, 2024.


1 Comment

Cecily McNeill
Cecily McNeill
Jul 05

wow, what an explosive review. thanks for the warning to pay close attention so as not to miss one syllable. well done Sally Faraday and all your mates - at least i hope you’re still talking to each other!!

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