28 Oct In the Club by Patricia Cornelius – review
There are probably not many plays you can think of where you want to just stand up and yell at the actors during their delivery of the dialogue of the play. In the Club by Patricia Cornelius is this such play. The action takes place in spaces connected to a nightclub. The story follows the thoughts and actions of three women, who are in different stages of their lives and with different perspectives towards dating and having sex with men. The other three actors in the play are three men, who play AFL players, each with a particular connection to each of the three women.
The play pulls no punches and shines a bright light on the state of gender relations in 2023.
The various meanings of a ‘club’
‘In the Club’ followed the absolutely ATROCIOUS behaviour of the three AFL players towards the women. And it made me realise how incredibly different our genders are (or the archetypes of our genders). It felt to me like these men were some other species to the women. And I haven’t felt so angry in a theatre production ever, I don’t think.
There was a lot of talk about the value of sex. And one of the women in the play did enjoy sex for the sake of it. Except it seemed to be a misplaced kind of sense of validation seeking for her.
The whole thing was disgusting, yes, but it also made me realise that perhaps there is a third way for women. Maybe we really can enjoy our bodies, and sex for the fun of sex without it being tied to what seems to me to be quite a patriarchal view that women engage in sex for love and men engage in sex for pleasure. Why can’t women engage in sex for pleasure too? Or why can’t we simply respect each other? The whole idea that we are waiting around for some guy to love us just feels a little patronising if you ask me.
In the Club by Patricia Cornelius was an interesting and evocative play. And well worth a trip to St Kilda Theatreworks to watch.
As in life
One of the most interesting aspects of the play was that it loosely followed some of the real-life events that happened when an ALF team visited a high school in Melbourne a few years ago. The young woman in question was strong enough to call that out and to expose the player for his misogynistic antics, and although I felt like ‘In the Club’ did not sugarcoat things and did not shine a light on a pathway to peace between the sexes, it was empowering to see a young woman call out the bad behaviour.
If you are interested in gender politics and sexual dynamics in heterosexual relationships I would very much recommend going to see In the Club by Patricia Cornelius. It is running at Theatreworks until Saturday 11 November, 2023.