Tag: Natalie Carr

REVIEW; La Mama Theatre Presents US

Polished and poignant new work

By Myron My

Presented as part of La Mama Theatre‘s Explorations season of works in various stages of development, Margaret Hickey’s Us provides an insight into six very different lives bound by one thing in common, a connection to others. Through six ten-minute monologues, these stories are explored in a light-hearted yet truthful way that has us questioning what it is we are seeking from other people.


Hickey has struck gold in assembling the cast that she has for this show. Natalie Carr, Travis McMahon, Ned Napier, Daniel Rice, Sally-Anne Upton and Janet Watson Kruse all find the essence of their characters and their individual displays of equal bravado and vulnerability are perfectly captured. It is clear that each has put in much thought as to how their particular character carries themselves, and their individual state of mind.

Of course, the great acting is complemented by Hickey’s strong writing. Each story begins somewhat predictably with the actors playing to the stereotype of their character, however Hickey creates a twist to each story that has us considering these people in a very different light. There is an incredible emotional depth to the monologues that allows us to connect with each and every story.

Hickey ensures the idea of an “us” is felt throughout the show and highlighted by her call-backs and references to the other monologues. There are a number of characters who mention football or scrap-booking for example, and at one point, Upton refers to herself as an “old bird” and soon after we are introduced to Rice’s character who is a bird-watcher. It is this elegant attention to the smaller things that help make Us such a rich and rewarding piece of theatre.

The direction by Matthew Emond further pushes this idea of interconnectedness with all characters remaining on stage for the whole show. They are always present, surrounding the individual whose story it is, watching and listening just as intently as we are.

It’s hard to believe Us still a work in development because this production seems to be almost flawless. It is a beautiful piece  that explores humanity and what it is that connects us with other people. You can’t help but walk out of the theatre feeling like there is no longer an I or you or him or her or them but a we, that despite our differences, we really are an us.

Us was performed between 16 – 18 October at La Mama Theatre.

Image by Mary Helen Sassman

REVIEW: Jane Miller’s CUCKOO

Unsettling funny

By Narelle Wood

Cuckoo, written by Jane Miller and presented by 15 Minutes from Anywhere, is a dark comedy that delivers on both promises of darkness and humour. It’s an ordinary night, Mel and Leo are having an ordinary conversation until a knock at the door reveals the unexpected: the return of their long ago lost son J. Over the next 90 minutes the plot teeters on tragedy as it explores the effects of such monumental events on those involved.


Miller’s script is something quite unique. Most of the dialogue seems like benign chatter, with characters often talking to themselves, and over the top of each. However this is actually a cleverly disguised ploy for plot exposition as each seemingly random utterance reveals small details about the characters, their relationships and how those relationships are shifting. Under Alice Bishop’s direction these layers of conversations are perfectly timed and interspersed with just the right amount of pause.

The lighting and character movement are also used to establish story and character dynamic. Lighting changes are used to denote flashbacks that only give glimpses into the past, never really revealing too much. And while the characters are always moving, it never appears too busy, but rather adds to the understanding of where this story is and perhaps where it is going.

The ensemble cast of Natalie Carr (Mel), Matthew Molony (Leo), David Kambouris (Dan) and Samuel Russo (J) are exceptional and just one more element that makes this play work so well. The chemistry between the cast heightens the uncomfortable feeling that something is not right and that perhaps one or more of the characters is being manipulative, but you’re never quite sure who or what they are up to. Russo’s portrayal of J is both infantile and calculating, which borders on the sociopathic and is completely intriguing.

The subject matter of Cuckoo could have been harrowing and potentially offensive. But instead what it accomplishes is an honest, unsettling and thoroughly humorous account of life in the face of tragedy. Everything about this play works, and I walked out slightly disturbed but thoroughly entertained.

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 flinders lane
Season: 8th to 26th July
Tickets: Full $36 | Conc $28
Bookings: fortyfivedownstairs.com ph: 96629966

Image by Lachlan Woods