Mr Bailey’s Minder

Mr Bailey’s Minder
Written by Debra Oswald. Directed by Phil Carney. New Farm Nash Theatre, Brisbane. May 10 – June 1, 2024.

Australian writer Debra Oswald’s play is centred on Leo, a famous artist, who has been ravaged by years and years of alcohol abuse, coupled with self-loathing and indulgent misbehaviour. He desperately needs round-the-clock care and this is to be provided by Therese, who is fresh out of prison and untrained for the task. We follow the changes and effects this has on both of them while one of his daughters attempts to control the situation, while carrying a lot of anger herself at the life Leo created for her. The character conflict and changes take place in Leo’s house, which is almost dilapidated as he is. This situation was challenging for the audience to view but was relieved at times by humour – that is the humour of relief.

The cast of four was directed by Phil Carney with skill and finesse. There were not any lapses in the whole show as he moved the players while building the tension at times. Very well done. The success really depended on the performances of actors in the roles of Leo and Therese. John Stibbard as Leo was excellent, maintaining his character with all his quirks and clarity with never a flaw at any time. Susan O’Toole-Gridland as Therese also performed at the very top level which helped make the interplay between Leo and Therese, so critical for the success of the play, so absorbing for the audience. Linda Morgan was strong as the annoying bossy daughter Margo and gave the necessary contrast in a somewhat un-pleasant way. Gary Farmer-Trickett completed the cast with the two supportive roles.

This production made the grade as a very good night at the theatre, indeed, and is certainly one of the very best shows by Nash Theatre for some time. Good direction and excellent performances by the main two cast members – what more could you want. Very highly recommended.

William Davies

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