Thursday, 26 March 1998
SINGSING BY KURT GEYER, March 26, 1998
SINGSING BY KURT GEYER
AT LA MAMA UNTIL MARCH 29, 1998
Reviewed by Kate Herbert on or around March 25, 1998
La Mama is an organisation that provides for artists the freedom to experiment in a safe environment, the luxury of testing the water with untried ideas, and attempting a new skill in the theatre arena.
In the case of Kurt Geyer in his monodrama, Singsing, an actor has written and performed his own work which has some resonance of his own life's journey towards ' the golden place" he dreamed of as a child.
Geyer, directed by David Latham and with musical accompaniment and occasional interjections by pianist Tuck Leong, is alone on stage but creates a series of characters living in different time periods and locations, but linked by a common thread
Maria Karl Schnee is a cook in Dubbo in 1942. He has a shadowy past as a rent boy in Sydney and an unfortunate first name for a gay man who wants to be a drag queen chanteuse. His father, Gustav, is a disturbed bigot living in New Guinea. His aunt, Theodora, was an aviatrix who flew to PNG and was not eaten by the locals. Clarence Moon is revealed to be Karl's long-suffering secret admirer.
Geyer peppers the hour with snatches of popular songs, with particular emphasis on Maria in the Sound of Music. Some other odd choices appear. Two numbers from Dave Mason (The Reels) seem to be included simply because Mason came from Dubbo.
To quote Carl, "I'll never make a chanteuse.". Geyer is certainly no musical star and he would fare better staying in his lower vocal register.
The piece takes off dramatically when we meet Gustav. The tone darkens, tension heightens and the lighting better defines the space and focuses our attention squarely on the neurotic behaviour of the character
Even more successful was the final scene with Clarence. The text comes alive, emotional intention is clear, the journey of the play is completed. It is a pity that this touching fragment of story was not more fully explored at the expense of others.
Geyer is committed to his material which seems to draw on some personal experience First plays are inevitably imbued with a fresh, nervous energy but are often fraught with difficulties and riddled with problems. Singsing is no exception.
It is cheerful and charming but suffers from some major script flaws and awkward moments in its performing. It feels uncomfortable and needs a stronger physicality and a rigorously re-worked script.