The Melbourne Monologues

The Melbourne Monologues
Melbourne Writers’ Theatre. La Mama Courthouse. 27 November – 2 December, 2018

Director Elizabeth Walley has brought together six very strong monologues with six excellently cast performers to create an extremely engaging. crisp and lively evening of ‘Writers’ Theatre.’

The master of ceremonies and other cast members usher us into the acoustically excellent Carlton Courthouse, which is the perfect venue for a night of monologues.  As endowed by the actors and lit by lighting designer Adelaide Harney, the atmosphere has just the right seedy jaded yet romantic circus/cabaret feel.  Things flow seamlessly as each performer presents their story.  All the while, the other actors are present, comfortable in repose and totally supportive of the performer in the spotlight.  Nothing is excess or out of place, everything moves in a well-oiled manner and all performers present themselves with slick professionalism.

The first work is written by Bruce Shearer and performed by Alec Gilbert.  Angry Dancing is about the therapeutic concept of dancing anger out of one’s system.  It is fun and engaging and unexpected.   Gilbert conveys just the right unnerving tone of the menace of a jaded and angry ring-master/MC.  His presence is strong and convincing and probably persuasive enough to get the audience to join with actors and dance their anger into the ether also.  However, you may be relieved to know that degree of audience participation is not required.

Then the theme of falling is explored in, The Unspeakable Beauty of Falling, by Alison Knight.  Amongst other things this work conjures up the indelible image of the ‘falling man’ from the twin towers of 9/11.   The writing is beautifully descriptive, particularly in relation to the costume with bat wings that Franz Reichelt wore when he plummeted to his death off the Eifel Tower in 1912.  Performer Ruth Katerelos’s voice is crystal clear, nicely modulated and appropriately expressive.

Callum Straford performs Neil McGovern’s Sometimes.  Straford, with a clown’s bright red glossy painted lips, dwells on the sensuality of touch that starts with the brushing of the mouth with fingers and ultimately shudders through the whole body as a kiss.

Most intriguing.

With a disarming ability to really purr, Joanna Davey embodies something of a cat biography in the work 3 out of 9 by Brooke Fairley.  This cat is two thirds of the way through her nine lives.  She has lived quite a bit and has something of the dominatrix about her.

Isabella Gilbert, actually a dancer in training, never disappoints.  Her story The Diamond Bracelet is a fragment of a full-length work inspired by the spy Nancy Wake, who was ‘The White Mouse.’  This play Underground, written by Christine Croyden, is to be presented next year at Gas Works.  Gilbert’s musical theatre skills are well integrated in this particularly haunting piece.   It brings to mind the play I am a Camera or indeed the movie Cabaret.  Perhaps itself is the inspiration for Walley to present the whole in a cabaret setting.

The death of a father is the theme for the final piece, The Charon, written by Martin Rice and performed with conviction and integrity by the author.  This specific work incorporates the metaphor of stampeding horses to particularly strong and moving effect.  This is a very thoughtful and fascinating piece about the contract of helping the dying.

A most interesting and enjoyable evening of very well nurtured and presented writing.

Be quick and catch it – you won’t be disappointed.

Suzanne Sandow  

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