Tuesday, 7 May 1996

A Cheery Soul, May 7, 1996

Written by Patrick White
MTC, at Playhouse until June, 1996
NB: This is not a full review. Notes only remain from my review (around May 7, 1996)

A Cheery Soul, by Patrick White,  is dark comedy but there are moments of hilarity when the actors were waiting for laughs to die to get lines through. But it has a ghastliness fatalism, an intense and dreadful poetry which makes it painful and excruciating.

Neil Armfield's production is in the best Brechtian heritage acknowledging the audience who are complicit in the whole plot, revealing the lighting, the musicians, the staging and furniture removals. Even the rolling walkway is a feature recognised and stumbled over on purpose.

Robin Nevin brings a palpable enjoyment to the role of Miss Docker. She grins wickedly, almost a female Steptoe. Her maddening criticisms, her grotesque insidious interference, kindly advice are made poignant by her utter desolation when she feels God has judged her.

Strangely she is only touched or affected by creatures: the swaggie and astray blue heeler who pees on her old nylons.  She drives people to distraction so that their own Christian charity is taxed to the very limit to the point where the vicar dies from trying to teach the error of her "militant virtue" from the pulpit.

Melita Jurisic is luminous as the vicar's wife and Ian Scott is sympathetic as the inarticulate parson.
Director- Neil Armfield

Margaret Mills
Robyn Nevin
Melita Jurisic
Ian Scott

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