by Patricia Cornelius
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Four friends embark on the holiday of a lifetime, searching for freedom on a cruise on the high seas. But once they have left the shore behind, the darker side of mateship takes over. Recklessly determined to shake off the baggage of their lives, they begin to spin out of control. Leaving their moral compass behind them, a terrible crime is committed.
Savages is a story of men in a state of lawlessness. It’s about men who don’t know themselves, who don’t know what they can become, who desperately hold on to an image of themselves that is in tatters. In a testosterone fuelled rage, we witness four men returning to the animal kingdom.
Savages presents the audience with four men that we can relate to in one way or another: we may see ourselves in the family man, or in the man who’s scared to find love, or the man who desperately wants to be liked. If we don’t see ourselves in these characters, we see them all around us. These characters are relatable, are familiar, make jokes we have heard before.
This is the problem. These characters are people whose problematic behaviours get swept under the rug because they are amicable, and because we are so used to these comments in everyday life. However, it is these same four men that we know from everyday life that commit a horrific and violent crime.
Savages is based on the 2002 rape and murder of Dianne Brimble on a P&O cruise, by four men who no one expected to commit the crime. This is the concept that Patricia Cornelius has presented us with in her play – that criminals do not always look like criminals, and that often we as a society ignore behavioural warnings because we have become completely numb to them.
I want the actors to look within and take responsibility for any of these behaviours that they may exhibit themselves. Rather than asking women to tell their stories again and again of how a patriarchal society has torn them down, it is men that have to acknowledge and understand that the constraints of masculinity are just as toxic to them.