Thursday, 20 May 1999

Poetsday by Ross Mueller, 20 May 1999

at La Mama until May 30, 1999
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

"Poetsday" is an expression little used but pretty damned useful. It is an acronym for, "Piss Off Early. Tomorrow's Saturday." TGIF" meaning "Thank God It's Friday", is in the same family of colourful and cynical phrases from the working population.

Poetsday is also the title of a new short play by Ross Mueller. It is a montage of monologues by four characters, all of who are connected with the building of a fabulous architect-designed home for their never-seen, exceedingly wealthy American client, Abby.

Mueller gives a poetic tone to even the most working class of his characters. David, who works on the site, (Peter Hosking) spins yarns about his four kids, his work place weekend jaunts to the sea in a lyrical blokey fashion. It is he who coins "poetsday". Hosking gives a warm and gritty performance.

Angie, (Carmen Mascia) is a university student with a huge HECS debt who has developed RSI while working as a painter's assistant on Abby's house. Mascia gives a charming portrayal of Angie's ingenuous joy in physical work and her fascination with Abby's stories of Chicago in the 60s and Jimmy Hendrix.

Lily, the architect (Anne Browning) has vulnerability in her pride in her design. She wants Abby's approval and values their teamwork in putting the detail to her plan. Frank (Chris Uhlmann) is caught in a bind. He is a Koori who has to put up with quips and jibes from the plumber and the other boys until finally he flips.

The interesting thing about Mueller's script is that none of the four characters refers to any other. They live in parallel universes in the same workplace. Each has a comrade who is not seen. They talk about alienation, pain, abuse, work, family, love, paint and design.

Strangely, the most absorbing character remains off-stage. The client, Abby's wealth, style and finesse., her history and exotic quality are pivotal for the two women if not for the men.

Director, Lucy Jones, has placed the four in separate spaces at La Mama. Each inhabits a tiny pool of light from which he or she tell a story.  Jim GamAck's live electric guitar accompaniment provides a texture and an emotional layer to the words.

Poetsday lacks some coherent through-line but it is good short play.
By Kate Herbert

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