Riflemind had its world premiere in Sydney in October 2007, directed by Hoffman. It tells the story of John, once the frontman for one of the world’s biggest bands, Riflemind. Now John and his wife Lynn are safe from the world in their walled country house. Money and anonymity, however, won’t protect them from themselves or their past. As a comeback tour nears, the band, associated spouses, lovers and hangers-on reunite for a rock’n’roll circus of a weekend.
Co-starring alongside Hannah are fellow Brit Paul Hilton (Rosmersholm, The Wild Duck, Mourning Becomes Electra on stage) and original Australian cast members Susan Prior (as John’s wife Lynn), Steve Rodgers and Jeremy Sims. The production is designed by Richard Roberts with lighting by Damien Cooper and original music by Max Lyandvert.
Overnight reviews were decidedly lukewarm, the primary complaint of critics being the failure of the play to live up to the promise of its rock ‘n roll premise. “Dreary dross” and “theatrical suicide” were among the most cutting descriptives, although the performances of the cast were roundly praised – the “excellent” John Hannah and “wonderful” Paul Hilton emerging with the strongest plaudits. Seymour Hoffman’s “elegant” direction largely escaped the critics’ wrath, whilst author Andrew Upton bore the brunt of the blame for his “predictable” and “narrowly-focused” script.
- by Theo Bosanquet