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The Removalists - Good Cop Or Bad Cop

Author: Darryn King
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The first production of the Sydney Theatre Company’s 2009 season is David Williamson’s ground-breaking and iconic play, The Removalists, a grisly story about the inner workings of the Australian police force, but also a shocking parable about the abuse of power in general. 3D’s Darryn King spoke to Dale March, who plays rookie cop Constable Ross on his first terrible day on the job.

As Australian plays go, it doesn’t get much more important than The Removalists. What is it that still strikes a chord with audiences today-
David Williamson’s very specific about the fact it’s not a commentary on the downfall of the police force. It was a vehicle that was used to explore authority, power and violence. Strangely enough there has been a lot of news recently about minimal police training, and fewer older cops to teach younger cops on the job. There’ve been a few horrible incidents where there was no real reason for civilians to be gunned down, but it’s happened. Maybe it’s because I’m tuned into it, but I’ve been surprised by the number of stories that do relate to that idea.

Constable Ross and Sergeant Simmonds are another young cop/old cop duo – do you relate to that dynamic-
I’ve been very fortunate in my life in having mentors, since my first job in a kitchen. I’ve continued to find wonderful older people – who aren’t my parents – to be mentors. Unfortunately, although this relationship could be a good thing for Ross, because Simmonds does have some fantastic advice for him, Ross just gets pushed too far, and his demons rear their ugly head. That’s the tragedy of it.

Your character is pushed to the edge and ultimately kills someone on the first day on the job. Having done a lot of Shakespeare yourself, do you recognise those same elements of the tragedy here-
Not only Shakespeare, but the Greeks. There is a wonderful sense of the ‘epic’ in this piece. The biggest challenge for me at the moment is to find the reality of it. This young guy, on his first day of work, a bit wide-eyed, thinking he has a nice future ahead of him – and he ends up killing someone. Maybe the last time I killed someone was in another lifetime, so connecting to that idea of actually killing another human being is a big challenge, but it’s kind of what’s exciting me at the moment.

Being a David Williamson play, are there still signs of his witty dialogue-

I find it quite funny. David’s come in and chatted to us a bit, and he talked to us about the first production at La Mama, and discovering even then that it was satire, and that’s the way it really worked. Having said that, even just playing it straight and quite earnestly, there’s quite a lot of humour in it.

WHAT: The Removalists
WHERE: Wharf1, Sydney Theatre
WHEN: Until 29 March