If you want to lose your faith in men entirely, NUTS’ production of Savages is perfect evening viewing. Four horny, aggressive, lonely blokes sail away on a cruise ship for the boys’ trip of a lifetime. However, their close living quarters quickly feel suffocating as old rivalries resurface and tensions rise. Written and directed by women (Patricia Cornelius and Rosie Niven), with a fantastic male ensemble (Tom Polkinghorne, Matthew Pritchard, Liam Jarvis and Joe Knights) the show presents a gut-wrenching look at misogyny and toxic masculinity.
For these men, Rabbit (Polkinghorne), Runt (Pritchard), George (Jarvis) and Craze (Knights), ‘socialising’ is just a glorified pissing contest, as each try and outdo each other to be the bloke-iest bloke. The group bicker about everything, from physical strength, to sexual conquests; from who has the most scars, to who sees their mum the most. The way Niven directs these moments really highlight the men’s pathetic need to be validated, as the men scramble to one-up each other.
The actors are all excellently cast, able to both personify the distinct quirks of their characters, and work together well as an ensemble. Some of the show’s most powerful moments occur when mob mentality causes the men’s beastly side to take over. They become literal animals, howling as a pack. The club music booms and the lighting transforms to a bloody red tint, making the scene even more unnerving. These flashes of the savage within is reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, another play that explores the dangers of unrestrained masculinity.
While each of these characters are unlikeable in their own way, they’re also all given redeeming qualities that remind us that we know guys just like them. The script and performers give each man moments of vulnerability. This allows us to empathise with the toxic social expectations that force these men to become the worst versions of themselves. This is a production that everyone ought to see, and one that will leave you thinking long after the curtain call.