Car Crash – Theatre Review

When it comes to theatre, I find often playwrights love to explore either history or a current theme. But it is not often that a writer will tackle an event that is not only fresh in our minds but also still playing out in the media and/or courts. That is why Car Crash by Gregory Vines is such an important piece of theatre.

While the events of Car Crash centre around the breaking scandal revolving around Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein back in 2019 – the Epstein case is one that just won’t be put to bed when it comes to the international media’s coverage of it. Because of that and the legal ramifications around the case, I feel I need to say that VinesCar Crash reveals a writer who is not afraid to make some brave decisions.

The play itself begins with Prince Andrews’ advisors, played by Melanie Madrigali and Alec Gilbert, beginning an average day at the Palace. The decisions they are facing are mundane – questions like “What bikkie should I have for breakfast?” and “What can we get for free if Prince Andrew gets behind this business?” are the order of the day. The pair even joke about the messy Epstein saga being dead and buried.

Then all hell breaks loose as the Palace’s Footperson, Madison (Elyse Batson), breaks the news to them that Jeffrey Epstein has been found dead. From there, the fallout is nuclear as the advisors soon find themselves having to seek the best way to deal with the further news that young Virginia Guiffre has released information around the fact that she was abused by Prince Andrew when she was 17 and was part of Epstein’s juvenile sex ring.

What surprised me the most about Car Crash was that fact that both Vines and director Cassandra Macgrath make sure that while the work is satirical, it is never exploitative or insensitive to the victims of the Epstein saga. It may seem weird to say that there are moments and lines in Car Crash that will have you laughing out loud, yet somehow that is exactly what happens while the script itself allows this to be a piece that still made me reflect on the fact that there are people out there who will use their PR skills to try and quell a crime as heinous as this.

For the most part, Car Crash works but I did have two small gripes that I feel should be rectified if this oce act play is going to become something bigger.

First of all, I was not sure about the casting of John Voce as Prince Andrew. While it worked for comedic effect, I felt that the casting didn’t quite work when you consider Alec Gilbert does bare a slight resemblance to Prince Andrew (in fact, when the play first started, I thought he was playing Prince Andrew) while Voce does not. That combination actually really struck me and for a moment it took me out of the play while my brain processed it. It may sound like a weird thing to say but Gilbert’s likeness to Prince Andrew made me realise just how little Voce resembled him in any way.

The second thing I thought didn’t quite work for Car Crash was the inclusion of the businessman played by MJ Wilson. While Wilson did nothing wrong with their performance, it felt that the scenes that featured them were redundant, especially when the character of Madison was already being used so well to reflect Great Britain’s feelings towards Prince Andrew.

That being said, the cast of Car Crash did an amazing job. I found Melanie Madrigali and Alec Gilbert were brilliant as they blended drama with comedy to bring their characters to life. Gilbert in fact played his character so well, there were times where he would have me laughing one moment and feeling disgust at humanity the next… which I’m certain was the writer’s aim.

Elyse Batson was also scene-stealing as Madison and it was easy to gauge from the audience’s reaction whenever she came onto the stage that she had very quickly become their favourite.

I do admire the team behind Car Crash as it is not often that a piece of theatre that deals with topics such as sexual abuse could work as a satire, yet that is what happens here. I do hope to see Car Crash return to the stage one day with its minor imperfections ironed out as this is an important tale that needs to be told.

Car Crash has finished its season (From March 11 to 16, 2024) at The Butterfly Club. The final show was attended for the purpose of this review. If anyone interested in seeing the production should it return to the stage can follow its progress here:

Photography supplied.

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