Saturday, July 13, 2024

Trophy Boys

Trophy Boys
Writer: Emmanuelle Mattana
Director: Marni Mount
Seymour Centre
June 21 – July 7, 2024

The fast-paced and exhilarating Trophy Boys resonates with the present socio-political environment in the funniest yet darkest of ways. Emmanuelle Mattana’s concept is ingenious. We laugh at the antics of a group of peacocking teenage boys as they prepare for a debate with a girls’ school, while at the same time the script incisively addresses the current conflict between performance and authenticity.

The in-coming audience sees a traditional looking classroom with whiteboard and along the back wall a series of portraits of high-achieving and courageous women from Marie Curie to Grace Tame. These portraits remain as background to the ensuing action of the play, a reminder of gendered inequality. Why, is the question, has there not been more than surface change?

As the boys from the elite St Imperium’s private school erupt into the room the answer will be revealed. The Year 12 boys have an hour to prepare for their final high school debate against a sister school on a topic revealed to them as they swing over the whiteboard, “Has Feminism failed women?”, the affirmative side. They are gob-smacked but, and this is the crux of the play, as debaters they have been trained to argue an issue from any perspective. Belief in the stance adopted is irrelevant. Winning is the point.

As the boys try to think of “points” which might support the affirmative they indulge in pelvic thrusts and gross drawings which could just be teenage hormones. However, the versions of striptease performed by two of the boys, one tearing off his pants, the other his shirt, to reveal the same uniform beneath suggests their attitudes to women are more than skin deep. They have imbibed masculine superiority from the cradle. As shortly they will be engaged in a debate which demands a respectful view of women’s struggle for equality, the striptease is a neat way of commenting on why change is more policy than reality.

The “boys” or actors (she or them) perform “toxic masculinity” with an absurd but recognisable coarse exuberance that is very convincing. Cleverly, the point is made that gender is performative and that a boys’ school is the most effective way of creating men who assume and exercise superiority based on gender performance.

Owen (Emmanuelle Mattana), the most intellectual of the four boys and destined for a political career, is well versed in feminist terminology rather than feminist theory, and readily able to drop catch words that give the appearance of commitment to equality but without substance. Every so often Jared (Fran Sweeny-Nash) will declaim that “he loves women” and Scott (Gaby Seow) admits to loving Jared, while David (Leigh Lule) of the immaculate cornrows, whose role is “advisory”, is concerned with having some input.

Unhappily for the boys, a media bombshell sets the cat among the pigeons but happily for the play it raises some interesting questions which resonate with the past and present conduct of men in public positions. The boys little debating network frays beneath the strain but mutual interest in winning may just save them. After all, they always won in the past, didn’t they?

The actors give excellent performances. Mantana is brilliant in the demanding role of the indefatigable and shape-shifting Owen, his intensity nicely balanced by Sweeney-Nash’s phlegmatic Jared. Seow and Lule each have their own story contributing to what is a very intelligent satire aimed at exposing why there is such a gap between policies and authentic change.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -spot_img
- Advertisment -spot_img

Sydney’s best ‘top 20’ result in prestigious world rankings

The University of Sydney has secured its highest ever ranking overall and continues to be rated as a top 20 global university in the 2025 QS World University Rankings.

Homes NSW to develop North Eveleigh Clothing Store site

The North Eveleigh Clothing Store Precinct will be transferred to Homes NSW for the delivery of 500 new homes, half of which will be social and affordable homes.

A new kind of industry policy

The Trevor Davies Memorial Lecture is an annual event hosted by the Trevor Davies ALP Branch, and the Newtown ALP State Electorate Council. This year, it was held at the Royal Hotel on June 13. Assistant Minister Tim Ayres, a former branch member and Darlington local, was asked to deliver the address.

Volunteers’ News – July 2024

Volunteers’ News – July 2024.

Refreshing approach to food production

REDFERN: On July 21, I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the new website for Native Botanical Brewery (NBB), and to talk to the team behind this new and innovative business.

‘A giant in the fight for First Nations justice’

It is with great sadness that Reconciliation Australia sends our condolences to the family and friends of the Rev. Dr D. Gondarra OAM.