Saturday, 5 April 1997

Allison's Rub by Terry Norris, April 5, 1997

Allison's Rub by Terry Norris
La Mama at the Courthouse Wed to Sun 8.15 pm until April 12, 1997
Reviewed by Kate Herbert around April 3, 1997

Toss away your valium, lacex and prozac. Allison's rub is the answer to all your tension-releasing dreams.

Allison's Rub, the first play written by actor and ex-M.L.A. Terry Norris, is a tale of coming of age in a strange way. Beryl (Paulene Terry-Beitz) advertises in the wool shop window for a border: enter Allison (Kate Gorman), a student of massage therapy who has a magic touch.

The play, directed by Gary Files, is a traditional narrative comedy with broad characterisation. The writing is a series of clever puns, witty dialogues, and old vaudeville silly business with a sound premise for a comic narrative. Constant references to 40's and-50's Australiana raise a giggle by their sheer nostalgia value. Do Bex powders, blue bags and kisses under the quince tree ring a bell?

Beryl's  harridan real estate agent daughter, Dawn (Tatyana des Fontaine-Burns) wants mum's house to seal a deal with a dodgy property developer. She tries to enlist the help of Beryl's transvestite son, Walter (Marcus Eyre) who, at 39, has finally left mum for a special accommodation home after his breakdown. He dressed up as Streisand at a high school concert. Silly man!

All four performances are strong with a sterling job by Terry-Beitz as the sweet but tough old Beryl. Marcus Eyre is hilarious and just avoids going too far as the "gender-confused" Walter.

There are a couple of problems in an essentially funny show. The script could benefit from some dialogue tightening, stripping out some over-writing. The interpolation of monologues by three of the characters seemed unnecessary, as did the use of naturalistic sound effects for door openings and slammings.

The play has a happy resolution. The household is reunited and everybody gets their healing massage including a large chunk of the greater community. But to find out about that you'll need to see the show!


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