The West

Musical pokes fun at lawyers
Cast and creators of musical comedy Lawyers and Other Communicable Diseases. On the left with the glasses is John McPherson, and on the right is James Marzec.

In the fine traditions of Urinetown, which gave a spray to legal and corporate corruption, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a local duo has crafted a musical-theatre show about the goings-on in lawyer land.

Not surprisingly, one of the pair, playwright James Marzec, has a legal background and was admitted to practice just two weeks before the premiere of the show, Lawyers and Other Communicable Diseases, at the Subiaco Arts Centre.

"Given the content of the musical, if I still have a job in a week I'll be very happy," Marzec says. Marzec, who wrote the comic show with composer and high school music teacher John McPherson, says it was meant to celebrate lawyers as much as criticise them.

"Being a lawyer always seems to attract both respect and contempt from society, often simultaneously," he says. "That's always been a mystery to me. Our show is an exaggerated satire of what lawyers as a profession have done to deserve our mixed reputation in the community - how some of us naturally choose the noble path, and some of us lust after power and prestige."

As well as the usual music-theatre influences, the pair draw on the corporate cut-throat plays of David Mamet such as Speed-the-Plow and Glengarry Glen Ross. Marzec and McPherson have created several community theatre shows but this is their biggest production yet, with a cast of 25 and live swing jazz band.

The chief characters are hotshots John Solicitt and Roger Steele, who are charged with professional misconduct but take a shot at redemption by taking the unwinnable case of a beautiful young socialite accused of murder. In court, they square off against internationally feared Austrian barrister Wolfgang von Lionheart.

The score includes such songs as the pompous judiciary number Court! And (Don't) Take it from Me, an ode to the power of civil lawsuits.

"I feel if you work in a profession where men wear dresses and wigs and then demand to be taken seriously, it is your civil obligation to make as much fun of them as possible," Marzec says.

Lawyers and Other Communicable Diseases is at the Subiaco Arts Centre from September 25-29.

The West Australian

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