Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Saturday, 9 February 2002
Moon Babies, Feb 21, 2002
By Patrick van der Werf at La Mama until
March 3, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert, Feb 21, 2002
Actor, Don Bridges, gives a compelling performance in this
production of Moon Babies by Patrick van der Werf and directed by Peta
He plays a peculiar old derelict, looking spookily like Old
Steptoe, who wanders into an abandoned shack inhabited by two odd young
brothers. (Tom Davies OK, Cameron McKenzie).
Bridges is totally believable, controlled and sympathetic.
He handles with great aplomb the abstract and the poetic language as well as
the Australianised dialogue.
His physical presence is magnetic. He is crippled, wizened
and scruffy, limping and crawling on his skinny tinder-like legs.
The old man is hunting for his long-lost brother. He
reminisces about him, about his own time in hospital and about sex. He drools
over his little pleasures: a square of grubby chocolate, a cup of golden tea
and a jam sandwich.
Van der Werf writes some interesting material in this
script. The narrative stalls about twenty minutes in when it starts to repeat
itself and not advance the relationships, the plot nor the violence that sits
so close to the surface.
Of the three characters, the old man is the most fully
realised. The two young men, Grub (Davies) and Tic (McKenzie) are less satisfactory.
Grub is the older and wields power over the simpleton, Tic.
Both speak in bastardised Australianisms. Grub locks his brother in a cupboard,
shout and terrorises both him and the old man with a stick.
Which brings me to the major flaw in this production. Davies
shouts the entire time, mistaking stridency for passion.
His performance is on one note for most of the 75 minutes
and McKenzie seems to be trying to meet him on the decibels. It is so
unpleasant my guest and I had to block our ears.
Davies appears to have little vocal or physical control of
his performance. At one point he smashed his stick repeatedly and a large chunk
flew at the heads of the audience. This is unacceptable.
The lighting design by Rebecca Etchell is effective and the distressedwalls of the set by Hanrahan are
Bridges' work makes this piece worth the visit. With some
greater control by the other two actors, it could be a good short work.