Saturday, 29 March 1997

Geraldine McNulty, March 29, 1997

Dumped and Devastated  by Geraldine McNulty
Melbourne Comedy Festival 1997
Melbourne Town Hall until April 20, 1997
Reviewed by Kate Herbert on March 28, 1997

Geraldine McNulty's Dumped and Devastated is another must-see solo ComFest show, particularly if your taste leans toward a more theatrical comedy with intelligently and skilfully observed characters.

This is not a narrative show but a veritable retinue of characters who are variously hilarious and tragic or both. McNulty, a visiting English comic, expertly creates a bevy of women with only one basic red dress, which is nipped and tucked with belts (red) and accessorised with an array of scarves and hats (all red).

With physical and facial shifts she conjures some magical transformations, which are almost as fascinating as the characters themselves. She never hurries but allows the visible changes to be covered by very funny voice-overs and some musical interludes. McNulty is a class act: actin', singin', joke-tellin'.
Her ensemble of femmes comprise a school-ma'am cosmetics trainer, followed by a sad little bride whose mum has stage- managed her daughter's wedding, dressing the bridal party in red corduroy.

 The rustic throaty and nostalgic 60's poetess is beautifully observed, as is the folk-singing Amy Grant clone. There is a brassy harridan of an insurance saleswoman and an ageing songstress.

At the perfect moment in the hour-long show, McNulty sustains one monologue,  a poignant, funny portrayal of a plain, stitched-up Catholic "spinster" who suddenly discovers a fire in her loins which needs a-quenching. Her solutions are tragically naive and suffice to say, in her sexual ignorance, she relies on a rotten-toothed drunkard from her church and bad advice from Cleo.

The piece is called Dumped and Devastated and most of the women are just that, but it is not all doom and gloom. It is delightful and rich writing and human observation.


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