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  • Writer's pictureFiona Prior

When too much Theatre …

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

When too much Theatre …

(Wednesday eventing) First up was ‘The Wharf Review: Can of Worms

The girls' owned the night (whether played by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe, Phillip Scott or Mandy Bishop). There was right place/right time Michaelia; Dorothy the Millennial (and her puppy Toto), who can’t go home because she can’t afford one; Saint Jacinda; Jacqui Lambie being Jacqui ... to name a few.

Of course, Gladys was there having a chat, dressed to conservative and classic perfection in twinset, pearls, sensible shoes – it was more of a sympathetic ‘what were you thinking’ (and we weren’t talking about the corruption aspect) than a condemnation. Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth was also on stage and was handled as gently, giving a little message about her annus horribilis. Andrew, Meghan and then, of course that other thing … but she couldn’t quite remember and will have to ask Philip … (Awwww. I know. So sweet and sad).

For me, the punchline of the production was Murdoch Senior in an innings with Mephistopheles, whose master is calling in their deal. After much argy bargy and argument about 'the agreement', Rupert gives a look of complete contempt, throws his arms in the air and tells Mephistopheles to leave his kingdom, he has no intention of ever giving Satan back his soul (boom boom!)

(Thursday night) ‘Prima Facie’

This dramatic monologue starring Sheridan Harbridge is all about rape and the inadequacies of a legal system formed by men to ever be even-handed when dealing with this abuse. The feminism of my era was all about masculine discourse shaping our world and valuing our activities so this production was close to my feminist heart.

A young hotshot barrister just wants to win, having this message/goal reinforced through-out her education and her life as the way of gauging her worth. That is, until she herself is raped by a colleague in very messy circumstances … she is drunk, the act occurs in her home, she invited him over, they have slept together before.

Tessa, our young barrister, slowly unravels those court cases in which she has participated, the verdicts that her undoubted skills have helped to obtain without thought of innocence or guilt but only of due judicial process and following the letter of the law.

Slowly, our legal eagle comes to terms with the reality of an entire system historically formed by men, a system that only recognised rape in marriage (in NSW) as late as 1981, and a system that she has allowed to value her personal success or failure.

A confronting monologue written by Suzie Miller, compellingly delivered by Sheridan Harbridge.

So well timed in this era of ‘Me too’ institutional transformation.

(Friday evening) ‘The Boomkak Panto’

So much fun.

Complete with wands (real magic ones that sparkled when you pushed a button), we saw ‘Snow White’ turn into ‘Aladdin’ due to a costume hitch, as the small town community of Boomkak is threatened by a mustachio-twirling, bad guy developer.

This pantomime within a play was up for all the traditional smuttiness, appalling jokes and fun audience participation that accompanies authentic pantos … but added a layer of domestic political satire along with a good dose of gender and racial politics.

We hissed, booed and cheered for the Princ(ess)/’them’ and want the other princess to realise that ‘Butch’ may be straight but he isn’t very nice. We love the fact that our councillor/tribal elder thinks our single-mum refugee is a Goddess. And of course, we are all barracking for our community to show that baddie just one moment of beauty and truth to break his hold/spell over their tiny community.

And no one’s happy ending is overlooked (except the villain who is truly nasty). Even Butch, after overcoming his ice habit, emerges as a sweetie:)

‘Gloriously stupid’ as one critic proclaimed, we have major talent Virginia Gay to thank for this mess :)

Way too much theatre for one week but a marathon I am glad I saw to the finish line.

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