The second week of Short and Sweet Week 2 Theatre Top 80 featured some interesting scenarios created by playwrights of the short form along with a consistently good quality of acting through the night.
The strongest drama of the night was Luther Canute, Max Moran and Ed Capel’s THE GAME, directed by Phil Cunich, which featured a poignant take on mateship with the setting being three young men trapped in a combat zone dreaming of being back home playing their beloved Aussie Rules.
THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES, a verbatim play by Katie Pollock and Paul Daley from an original concept by Peter Fray, provides us with a look at the state of Australian politics by the most direct route possible, chosen extracts from the recently completed 43rd Parliament.
The surprising thing, for me at-least, was that our politicians did not fare too badly from such close analysis. The play even ends on an optimistic note quoting Anthony Albanese wishing everyone well till the first sitting of the new Parliament.
Essentially, THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES works as a highlights and lowlights reel/record of the last Parliament with a lot of time allocated to the major issues that dominated the term including the plight of Asylum Seekers and the continuing Australian involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
Each issue was dealt with with independently and then the play would move. A lot of ground was covered over the night. One of the play’s highlights was that we not only heard from the major political figures such as Gillard and Abbott but also from much less well known MP’s who made significant contributions to the relevant debate.
Just three actors, and great actors they were too, David Roberts, Camilla Ah Kin and Tony Llewellyn Jones, said the words of a wide range of pollies, each using a lectern. A large multi-media screen behind verified the name of the politician they were playing. This screen was also used for other dramatic purposes including the posting, one by one, of the names of the Aussie soldiers who have died in Afghanistan.
With the effect of adding emphasis, occasionally through the play, use was made of snippets of radio recordings of Parliament where one actually got to hear the authentic speaker.
At the play’s beginning, the actors endeavoured to play the pollies neutrally however this did not last for very long and by play’s end the trio were having a lot of fun with their characters.
THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES was an interesting and different night in the theatre. Peter Fray advised that he intended to produce further handard monologue pieces for future parliaments. Such nights can only add to the weight of political debate coming up to the next election.
A co-production of the Seymour Centre, the Merrigong Theatre Company and the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, the HANSARD MONOLOGUES played in Sydney at thbe York theatre, Seymour Centre on July 23 and ran until July 27, 2013.
Prominent contemporary American playwright Sarah Ruhl chose a great subject, a quirky, little known medical sidelight from history, for her new play ‘In the Next Room or the vibrator play’ and out of it has created a tremendous, often hilarious play from it.
In the late 19th century, some modern thinking physicians were trialling women who were suffering from hysteria by using a new electronic invention, the vibrator! Ruhl has one such a Doctor as the protagonist in her play. Dr Givings (David Roberts) has created a separate room in his family home for his surgery. The play opens with the Doctor taking on a new patient, Sabrina Daldry (Helen Thomson). Together with her husband Mr Daldry (Marshall Napier) she comes to the surgery, complaining of hysteria and a lack of satisfaction in her marriage. The treatment begins and after the initial shock Sabrina is soon rushing back for more!
Ruhl’s play turns on the fact that Dr Givings has kept his wife Catherine (Jacqueline McKenzie) in the dark about his new treatment technique. A young mother who spends most of her time at home, Catherine notices how Sabrina and her husband’s other female patients come out of her husband’s treatment room muh chirpier than when they went in! Her curiousity is pricked, what actually happens in the next room?! She starts prodding some of his patients, what actually happens in there?! Sabrina is a bit cagey about it but one day, when her husband is out on an errand, they manage to get access and his secret world is revealed!
‘In The Next Room’ works beautifully as high pitched comedy of sexual mores. This play’s achievement is also that it works, just as well, as a poignant study of a marriage that has lost its way, of a wife who is deeply lonely and miserable, and of a husband who is totally self and career focused.
Pamela Rabe crafts a very satisfying Australian premiere production. Tracy Grant Lord set and costume design places us beautifully in the Victorian era. The performances are a treat. Jackie McKenzie plays the waif like, neglected wife beautifully. David Roberts impresses as the emotionally disconnected husband. Mandy McElhinney is hilarious as the good Doctor’s deadpan faced assistant. Helen Thomson shines, giving a great comic performance as the ‘born again’ Sabrina. Marshall Napier plays her archly conservative husband. Josh McConville plays Dr Givings first male patient to receive the new treatment and his scenes are hilarious.
A great night out, Pamela Rabe’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s play ‘In The Next Room or the vibrator play’ opened at the Drama theatre, Sydney Opera House on Friday 11th February and plays until Saturday 2nd April, 2011.
SYDNEY REVIEWS OF Screen + Stage + Performing Arts + Literary Arts + Visual Arts + Cinema + Theatre +