Tag: Carolyn Masson

REVIEW: Melbourne Writers’ Theatre Presents THE MELBOURNE MONOLOGUES

Six glimpses into secret lives

By Margaret Wieringa

Melbourne Writers’ Theatre has been around since the early eighties, with a vision of developing Australian plays and playwrights, and The Melbourne Monologues is part of their annual Page to Stage season. Six monologues were featured, performed by five actors, all directed by MWT Resident Director and Dramaturg Elizabeth Walley.

Melbourne Monologues

Each monologue was extremely different to the others, yet there were some strong similarities; damaged people, often putting on a strong face to the world whilst things fall apart behind. At times, the performances could have used more space to let the drama of each situation settle. Certainly, each performer captured a particular essence of the character and while no character was totally lovable, the audience was on the side of each and every one. Christine Croydon’s take on Post Traumatic Shock Disorder in returning soldiers, with Alec Gilbert as the soldier attempting to settle back into civilian life, churned from calm and almost collected to explosive outbursts of distress and anger. Similarly, I’m a Certainty by Bruce Shearer had Sean Paisley-Collins, a wannabe winner lurching from affable and hopeful to aggressive and pained.

Lost saw Miliyana Cancar playing a somewhat undefined character who seemed to be totally in control and yet without any power at all, and it seemed the ambiguity in the writing allowed Cancar to take the character wherever she wanted. Many of us have experienced the Cry of a Forgotten Woman – whether it be dementia, or abuse, or simply age and incapacity, the plight of the aging woman is often ignored, and it was curious to see Brenda Palmer play a woman who celebrated both the good and tragic parts of her past.

It is always a challenge to have a character that is quite unlikable pluck at our heartstrings. Carmen Saarelaht has written a woman who has a powerful husband and stands by his side, regardless of her regrets. Carolyn Masson played up both the strengths and flaws of the character, but for me she took the night with her delivery of her final line.

The evening was rounded off with the humorous I Love You, written by Neil McGovern. Alec Gilbert returned to the stage rapidly firing lines through a wire door to a mysterious, unseen character who he both loved, yet could not let in.

It’s important to support these emerging and established playwrights, and I looked forward to seeing where their future endeavours take them.

Where: The Carlton Courthouse Theatre
When: Tuesday October 20 – Sunday October 25
Tickets: $20-$25

Review: THE STAIRS ARE MOVING by Neil Triffett

Promising new theatre and impressive performances

By Myron My

The Stairs Are Moving is a new play by writer and director Neil Triffett. Combining experimental techniques with traditional theatre, the story follows two siblings who reunite due to the passing of their Aunt Petunia.

Triffett has taken the unusual course of having minimal stage direction. For most of the show, the characters would use direct audience address to further the story. It was quite intriguing to hear these series of mainly monologues unfold, however it felt like a lot of the action disappeared, as it became more and more a series of “talking head” scenes. It got frustrating watching the actors say they were doing something when I just wanted them to physically do it.

Performer Charlotte Nicdao was the shining star of this production. Her ability to switch from not only calm and diligent Tulip to erratic and obsessive Tulip, but also to one of the crazy aunts was a joy to watch. Similarly, Carolyn Masson as the recently deceased Aunt Petunia provided great insight and emotion to a character that you therefore sympathise with despite the secrets she holds.

The scenes with lewd, crude and rude Aunt Olga and Aunt Tiffany (Nicdao and Masson) were definitely needed to lift the mood and the energy of the play. Having said that, there were moments of strong conviction from Sarah Plummer and Maurice Mammoliti as the two siblings. It was evident that there was a strained relationship between the characters but it would have been great to explore that more organically as revelations came quickly and out of the blue.

The lighting played an important part in the show, illuminating different spaces on stage to designate time, place and character, and setting the different moods and tones. There were moments where the wrong area was lit up and the actors began their scenes in the dark and the dark lighting sometimes detracted from the intensity of the scene, as we could not see the actors’ faces clearly.

The Stairs Are Moving is a highly original play with some very strong performances from its cast. Although not the easiest story to follow, Triffett should be congratulated on creating something very different for audiences to see.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton.

Season: Until 3 November | Wed – Sat 8:00pm, Sun 2:00pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: www.trybooking.com/bvml