Combine a failed marriage, a disloyal friend, a distant brother and a dying man, and you have the final offering from Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2012 season, Music. Faced with just a few weeks to live, Jack (Richard Piper) responds to the diagnosis of his impending death with a curious concoction of "morphine, music, memories and malt whisky". As his deterioration accelerates, an uncharacteristic desire for honesty grips Jack and we bear witness to the unravelling of a past riddled with deceit in one final quest for the truth.
Described as “a tragedy with jokes”, Music is celebrated Australian writer Barry Oakley’s reunion with the MTC after 32 years, and it seems he has returned with his sense of humour intact. Richard Piper performs the darkly comic thread of the play brilliantly, and the playful arguments between Jack and his holier-than-thou Catholic priest brother Peter (Robert Menzies), feature as some of the funniest scenes in the show. However, the same cannot be said for Margie (Janet Andrewartha) whose performance as Jack's adulterous wife proves wanting, often falling short in moments of intense emotion, causing the sincerity of her character to fall into question.
The dialogue is permeated by piano interludes, performed by pianist Margie, achieving a pathos that words quite simply cannot. The melodic interruptions provide a much-needed gravity to the juxtaposition of humour and desperation in the dialogue, exposing the vulnerability behind Jack's laddish bravado. However, for a play entitled Music, there was not enough emphasis on the music itself, which prompted a persistent desire to pause in these harmonious breaks and reflect on the devastating disharmony of the situation.
Barry Oakley on Music