Valley Artists present Jonathan Gavin's 'The Business' at Laguna Hall

INTENSE: Karen Toohey plays Van, the controlling mother and self-made businesswoman, in Valley Artists' production of The Business.

INTENSE: Karen Toohey plays Van, the controlling mother and self-made businesswoman, in Valley Artists' production of The Business.

Wollombi-based not-for-profit theatre company Valley Artists next production, The Business, opens at Laguna Hall this Friday night.

The Business is a family drama and black comedy by Australian actor, playwright and award-winning television writer Jonathan Gavin (Offspring, Cleverman, The Beautiful Lie).

It is based on Maxim Gorky’s 1909 play Vassa Zheleznova, a comedy about power, greed and entitlement, transplanted by Gavin to a successful family business in 1980s Australia.

Originally commissioned and presented by Sydney’s Belvoir St Theatre in 2011, Valley Artists’ version is directed by Micaela Elphick.

The Business is a tough social satire that explores such issues as generational conflict, sibling rivalry, materialism and excess, entitlement, desire and betrayal with razor-sharp intelligence and dark humour.  

“The Business is a fast, emotionally intense piece with a sharp climax; its humour is dark and the language brutal”, Elphick said.

The play’s central character is Van, a self-made businesswoman who, together with her husband, has built a small empire in Sydney’s outer suburbs.

Van’s comfortable living room is about to become a domestic battleground – her husband Bill is dying in the next room, Four Corners is asking awkward questions about the business and there’s the tricky issue of the will – after all, what sort of man draws up a will that bypasses his wife? 

Elphick said she has been fascinated by greed and power and the sinister influence these have on people and character for some time now.

“Moving to Wollombi has reinforced to me that happiness is not found in pursuit of money but it’s still a fantasy that our Trumpesque society continues to promulgate,” she said.

“I saw the opportunity to explore that in this play.

“If anything The Business is a cautionary tale. Be careful what you wish for.

“In the absence of any deeper connection with family and community the superficial things in life can take hold.”  

The Business opens at Laguna Hall at 8pm on Friday, March 24 and runs nightly (except for March 27 and 28) until April 1.

The show is rated M and tickets are $25 adults and $20 concession.

Tickets are available at www.valleyartists.org, Wollombi General Store and Great Northern Trading Post.

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