It is endlessly fascinating where writers get their ideas from and where they take them. Recently I saw a play ‘The Female Of The Species’ written by Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith which was inspired by an incident that happened to legendary feminist Germaine Greer in 2000 when she was confronted by a student with a pistol in her own home. The incident was resolved without anyone getting hurt.
Murray-Smith’s fictional play starts off with the same situation but from there takes off in a totally different directed with the playwright ending up writing a farcical comedy.
Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott was inspired to write M.ROCK after reading about a British woman, Ruth Flowers, who became a grannie DJ who became a big hit in swanky nightclubs around Europe.
She was known as Mamy Rock, a late in life legend. There is even a website www.mamyrock.com dedicated to her which advises that a documentary about her is in post production.
Again it is the case of the playwright having this ‘source material’ and then taking things in a very different direction. Philpott’s play is about a Sydney grandmother, Mable Mudge, who is enjoying the quiet life when she gets, in scriptwriting parlance, a call to action.
Her granddaughter Tracey, who she had a close relationship with, went on an overseas trip going to Africa and Europe before she settled back home to a career in nursing. Tracey doesn’t arrive back home when she is due and no-one has heard from her. She seems to have gone AWOL. Mable books an overseas trip determined to find Tracey, doing a great deal more than Tracey’s own mum!
It is how the play unfolded. The play becomes really two stories, two odysseys; Tracey’s and then Mable’s. Both characters become totally entranced by their adventures, to the point where the don’t think of anyone else but their next exciting adventure
Valerie Bader reprises her role as M.Rock and she is as great in the role as she was in 2014. She doesn’t seem to have aged a bit. How does she do it?! She inhabits/transforms into the grannie disco/rock queen.
Milena Barraclough Nesic as Tracey is great and very believable as a young woman enjoying freedom and independence and different countries for the first time. She gets very low sometimes but that is part of the adventure. She even eats out of a garbage bin in one scene.
The other three actors, Darius Williams, Bryn Chapman Parish and Masego Pitso are superb. Venus Guy Trap is the on stage DJ who provides a great, very danceable soundtrack.
Fraser Corfield reprises his role as Director and again demonstrates his skill with the play. Corfield keeps the action flowing well with no slow spots to put one off. The play is very theatrical in style with plenty of swift character changes and he orchestrates them well. Johnny Seymour is again the Sound Designer, Melanie Liertz is the set, (a great, compact set), and costume designer and Jane Fitzgerald is the dramaturg.
Ruth Flowers aka Mamy Rock was at the height of her nightclubbing powers, when one day in her home at Bristol she was relaxing in her armchair, with her luggage at her side and her passport in her pocket, when she went to sleep and didn’t wake up.
As the Bard wrote, ‘youth is not a stuff’ that will endure’. Except in plays such as Lachlan Philpott’s M.ROCK, a vibrant fantasy, where Mable Mudge keeps on rocking…
M.ROCK is playing the Rebel Theatre, Pier2/3 Suite 2, 13A Hickson Road, Dawes Point until 17 July, 2022. Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes with no interval
Performances are Tuesday–Wednesday 6:30pm; Thursday– Friday 7:30pm; Saturday 2pm & 7:30pm; Sunday 5pm
Tickets: Adult $65 | Concession $50 | Under 26 $45 | Group 8+ $60 | Preview $45-$55.
Production photography by Tracey Schramm
Verdict – suspension of disbelief. Some kind of wonderful. A fantasy piece that takes one on quite a ride…