Friday, 9 March 2001

Mothballs, March 9, 2001

By Jack Hibberd
Chapel off Chapel, March 9 until 1 April, 2001
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Jack Hibberd's style is recognisably idiosyncratic even after thirty or so years of writing for the Australian theatre. Mothballs, his latest monologue in a series of new plays, is performed with zest by his partner, Evelyn Krape. It has his signature written all over it.

The language is complex, witty and littered with literary references and local colour. Krape is a woman in mourning after the death of her husband, Ashley Smith. She is called Jocasta which is an allusion to the ancient Greek character and her fraught marriage. Attaching the surname Smith to such an epic name as Jocasta, is a typical Hibberd tilt.

He gets laughs from purposely misusing words, misquoting proverbs or cliches, poems or philosphers or placing anachronistic ideas together. Hibberd's writing is like a quick flit around the intelligentsia while simultaneously cocking a snoot at them.

This monologue is not quite as successful as Lavendar Bags Hibberd's previous piece performed by Krape last year. It is not as cohesive and has less of the relentless fury and hilarity.

However, it is clever and delightfully wicked and irreverent, with both poignant and funny moments. HIbberd's direction of his own play is cheeky and anarchic. Krape cavorts and capers in a parody of joy and despair. She is warm and charming as she leaps from mania to weeping, ecstasy to angst in a moment.

There is the opportunity for her performance to plumb the depths of anguish further. Her two styles of deep penetration of an emotion and hilarious parody of human pain are well-suited to this production but both could be a little sharper.

Even the choice of recorded music is funny. Mozart's Requiem is counterpointed with Chubby Checker and African drum music.

The presence of the corpse in a body bag on a marriage bed in the space is grotesque and funny. This epitomises the Hibberd humour. If it's sacred or serious, let's treat it irreverently. Now, there's a sound philosophy!

By Kate Herbert

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