Michael Gow’s Furious is a play that races along, unstoppable and raging from beginning to end. I’ve marked it as a biographical play because it’s a play about writing, about the urge to create and to use writing to make sense of the irrational, inexplicable and inexcusable.
Roland is an award-winning writer, famous for his family dramas and light-hearted, comic touch. He’s successful and appears to be managing until he’s called to an old peoples’ home to pick up a box a stranger has left to him. Inside the box he finds photographs and newspaper clippings about himself. The old lady had been following his career. In trying to find out why, Roland discovers that the old lady was once married to his father and that he has a half-sister somewhere in the world.
Roland is thrown into a vortex as everything he thought he knew about his family slips away from his grasp. He starts trying to write a life and a history for this old lady and the writing becomes the play we’re seeing. At the same time, Roland begins a relationship with a 16-year-old boy he’s supposed to be tutoring.
ROLAND: This is probably child abuse. In fifteen years you’ll start cutting old ladies’ fingers off and they’ll trace it all back to me.
With his life spiralling out of control, Roland finds he can no longer censor himself. The things he’s thinking come pouring out of his mouth, filled with bile and fury. He’s been helping some elderly fans write a play, but finds he can no longer say kind things to them.
MR MAXWELL: You have to give me something to tell my wife.
ROLAND: Tell her the truth Mr Maxwell! Tell her you can’t write. Tell her I was a coward, I should never have encouraged you in the first place. The moment you started to waste an entire forest getting this garbage off your chest I should have said, ‘Stop. Go no further.’ But I was a coward. I’m very sorry. You want something to tell your wife? Tell her couldn’t write a shopping list. Tell her you couldn’t write ‘fuck’ on a dirty Venetian blind. Tell her your son will never come home from America, she will never see him again, she’ll die without ever seeing him again.
The mother of the young boy Roland’s been seeing finds out about the affair and confronts him.
ALISON: I thought your job was to create. You’ve done nothing but destroy.
ROLAND: I gave your son an education.
He then proceeds to tell her in cruel and graphic detail about the sexual education he’s given her son.
ROLAND: I got closer to him than you. I’ve seen him do things you’ll never see. I’ve seen him happier than you ever will.
(Alison slaps Roland.)
ROLAND: I love your son.
ALISON: If I had a gun, I’d kill you.
For the parents, the big deal is that they feel they’ve “been robbed of grandchildren”. It’s a thread that runs through the play. The old lady who died, Bonny, had her grandson taken from her and adopted out. She fixated on Roland as a way of keeping a connection with someone who was, however distant, family.
Publisher: Currency Press
Cast: 3M, 3F (can also be doubled further with 3M, 2F)