Wednesday, 30 July 1997

La Mama Theatre Marathon Program 1, 30th anniversary, July 30, 1997

La Mama Theatre Marathon Program 1, 30th anniversary
Three Old Friends by Jack Hibberd
Long Time No See by Jack Hibberd
Robert Fumes by Barry Dickins with Peter Green
The Mind's A Wonderful Thing, Margaret Cameron
At La Mama,  Wed July 30, 1997

La Mama is celebrating its 30th birthday this week with a three-day theatre marathon of twenty-three La Mama plays. The first of the lot is a re-mount of Jack Hibberd's Three Old Friends, the very first play ever performed in Melbourne's much-loved tiny venue.

This early Hibberd (1967) has all his trademarks: an absurd situation, Australian colloquial lingo, blokey characters and repetition of ideas and dialogue. A man (Richard Bligh) who assumes he is with two old friends (Luke Elliot, Nicholas Crawford-Smith), finds his reality disintegrating as they deny knowledge of each other, their own well-known habits and, finally, of him. It is funny and disturbing in an existential way with has a satisfying pay-off at its conclusion.

It is followed by the premiere of a new Hibberd monologue, Long Time No See, performed by Evelyn Krape and also directed by Daniel Schlusser. She plays a theatre 'professional' swaddled in plaster bandages and hospitalised after an attempt to fly. Krape is in fine form in this addled character and she makes a comic meal of Hibberd's cascading language and attacks on a dying theatre industry. 'Where would theatre be without psychology? Back where it belongs'.

Next is Peter Green as Robert Fumes (1985), a snobbish and superior expatriate art critic who lives in a clinical loft in New York and slags off all things Australian while decrying the "cultural cringe." Written by the inimitable Barry Dickins, this satirical portrait of Robert Hughes is relentlessly damning of the snobbery and balderdash of the critic who actually does nothing in art.

The Mind's A Wonderful Thing is another premiere. Margaret Cameron is a magnetic performer with a honey voice and a monologue of lyrical, imagistic language. She sits at a table and tells the story of Mabel living in Northcote with her stroke-ridden Alf. But this is no ordinary storytelling although it deals with ordinary people.

Cameron's fountain of words has a beauty and delicacy that feels like the ebb and flow of the tide. Images of the suburban gully trap weave among the singing trees. Mabel's 'elephant tears falling on elephant grey concrete' are inter-cut with her thoughts of smothering Alf with glad wrap. The whole program was a delight but Cameron's brief piece had a magical quality that is rare. Her mind really is a wonderful thing.

La Mama has shows running from 6-12pm every night until Friday August 1, 1997


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