The Guys

Settlers Festival Theatre, Dunedin

06/10/2006 - 14/10/2006

Otago Festival of the Arts

Production Details

By Anna Nelson

Presented by The Actors' Gang

The Guys is a heart-wrenching play, set in the days of turmoil following the destruction of the World Trade Centre. Journalist and scriptwriter Anna Nelson was asked to help one of New York’s Precinct Fire Chiefs write eulogies for eight of his vanished fire-fighters. The intimate and moving dialogue between Nelson and the Fire Chief forms the basis of this unforgettable story, as they commemorate the lives of these fallen heroes.

The Guys is an eloquent statement about life and how quickly it can end and how those who are gone continue to live in the hearts and minds of those who loved them.

Presented by Los Angeles based company, The Actors’ Gang (Artistic Director Tim Robbins), The Guys is being performed exclusively at the Otago Festival.

Joan - Adele Robbins
Nick - William Russ

Theatre ,

1 hr 30 mins, no interval

List of eulogies falls short of great drama

Review by Barbara Frame 09th Oct 2006

A few minutes into The Guys, Joan asks the audience directly, "Where were you on September 11"?

Joan (Adele Robbins) is a New York journalist and she is helping fire chief Nick (William Russ) put together a distressingly large number of eulogies, because there are going to be a distressingly large number of funerals.

Over the next hour and a-half, Joan turns Nick’s halting descriptions of his dead colleagues into standard funeral prose.

And that, apart from a little tango dancing, is about all there is. The two characters are likeable, and their situation is one with which the audience can readily sympathise, but the play itself, static and cliché-ridden, isn’t great drama.

The Guys is brought to Dunedin by The Actors’ Gang, based in Los Angeles, and carries impressive credentials — such famous names as Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon have been associated with it.

The play’s great weakness is its inward focus. It refuses to broaden its scope beyond the immediate and the personal — to consider what lay behind the attacks and why many of the world’s people don’t like the United States very much.

And it doesn’t raise anything that might provoke serious thought or discussion.

Based on the experience of author Anne Nelson, The Guys was first produced in New York in December 2001. At that time and in that place it probably provided an excellent context for affirmation of the value of the lives of ordinary people, and maybe even a form of group therapy. In Dunedin in 2006, however, the absence of engagement with the wider questions of 9/11 is a serious flaw.

About 90 people attended the opening performance at the Settlers Festival Theatre last night, and reactions appeared mixed, but generally positive.


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