MANAGING CARMEN : GREAT LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

A very light, entertaining night of theatre awaits you if you make your way across to Rockdale. This is one of the funniest plays in Williamson’s extensive oeuvre.

The scenario. David Williamson’s play takes us into the world of elite sport. Brent is an elite sportsman, an Aussie Rules football player who has won two Brownlow medals. As is well known, elite sportsman make a heap of money out of advertising, from putting their name to various products.

Brent is managed by leading sports agent Rohan. Rohan has been trying to get Brent some good deals but they kept on being unstuck by Brent’s complete lack of charisma. Brent is just so wooden that Rohan simply can’t clinch a deal.

Hard times call for desperate measures, after all Rohan knows that there is good money to be made out of Brent. Rohan calls in sports psychologist Jessica to see if she can get install some perkiness, some spunk into Brent’s character. He also wants Jessica to do some ‘digging’ to see if there’s anything troubling Brent.

Brent proves to be a tough challenge, even for one as experienced as Jessica. The sessions in Brent’s home don’t go so well. Then things take a dramatic, or better put comic turn when Jessica comes in one day to Brent’s home and finds him dressed up to the nines in womens clothes complete with a terrible wig. Our Brent is a cross dresser, a transvestite.

Very experienced director Chris Searle directs the production with a sure hand and with full knowledge that she is working with excellent comic material. To start with there is always Williamson’s great one liners  to give you a head start.

The play featured a lot of short, sharp scenes with plenty of changes in location. James Searle’s set is very functional, with places to sit around the stage as the characters get into their wheeling and dealing. The changes in location are inferred, for instance bird sounds for the seaside scene.

A large screen takes up much of the back wall of the stage as this Guild Theatre production is a multi-media one with the intermittent use of video catching Brent in all sorts of guises from his very bland way of selling special vitamin formulas to seeing him kick a football around the park. Nick Searle was responsible for the film production and Izel Searle Garduno was his assistant.

The performances were all good, with each role giving the actor a chance to shine.

The play pivots around AFL star Brent well played by Russell Godwin. It’s a role that requires a deft hand as he plays Brent and then becomes Carmen when he gets into his extensive wardrobe of dresses. Brent is a  straightforward, intelligent character,  When he turns into Carmen, Godwin manages to convince us as this persona. It’s a  good performance in a challenging role.

David Hines is excellent as Brent’s pushy agent Rohan He is a familiar enough character, a no nonsense, pushy agent who finds himself pulling his hair out with the antics of his difficult, unhelpful client.

Donna Randall plays the psychologist Jessica  who is employed by Rohan to try and get Brent to be less bland, more sparky, in short a better salesman. Randall gave a warm performance as a woman who is exasperated by Brent but at the some time likes him.

Caitlin Gleeson plays Clara, Brent’s girlfriend, well sort of girlfriend. She is actually employed by Rohan to be Brent’s girlfriend so that it gives him a good public profile. Gleeson is good as the sexy young thing who is just into getting the best deal for herself.

Chad Smith is excellent in a role that we are all familiar with the grubby, hard nosed journalist Max who will do anything to get a good story.

Roger Hind and Ruth Lowry’s lighting design worked well. Veronica Bray-Saville was responsible for the choreography.

If you are coming by public transport, the Rockdale Theatre is a five minute walk from Rockdale train station. The show runs for two hours including one fifteen minute interval.

Recommended, the Guild Theatre’s production  of David Williamson’s MANAGING CARMEN is playing the Guild Theatre until 8 June 2019.  Performances are Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Bookings 95207364.Booking hours Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays 10am to 4pm.

http://www.guildtheatre.com.au

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