Thursday, 30 May 2002

The Aliens, May 30, 2002

 By Jackie Smith  at La Mama  until June16
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

In an Australian country town, secrets, prejudices and lies have festered since Lizzy ( Liz Welch)  left town twelve years ago.

The Aliens was co-winner of the Patrick White Playwright's Award in 2001. It is a naturalistic play written by Jackie Smith and directed by Peta Murray. There are glaring problems with both the script and the direction and performances are uneven.

Peta Murray's direction is static and the pace and timing too slow. The design by Jane Murphy  leaves the actors too little space to move.

The concept of the play has potential and Smith writes some  funny and successful dialogue.

However, the plot seems contrived and the resolution of the story is unsatisfactory. Information is repeated and there is little dynamic action. Most of the dramatic action takes place off stage in the past.

Characters have no emotional journey and are not fully rounded or credible. Lizzy's revelation at the end of the play is clearly inconsistent with the character as she is established.

Lizzy visits Mr Little, ( Don Munro)  an old and ailing man whose daughter, Julie, committed suicide recently. Living with Wilson are Iris, ( Shirley Cattunar ) his housekeeper, and her intellectually disabled daughter, Deidre (Jackie Smith).

Deidre, Julie and Liz were childhood playmates. There is a bond between the two girls still living, in spite of the years passing and their intellectual differences.

Liz Welch Lizzy, is credible despite the inconsistencies in Smith's writing of the character's behaviour. Deidre  is an interesting character but difficult to play and Smith struggles with her portrayal of a disabled woman.

Munro is entertaining as Mr. Little, but is at times inaudible and underplayed this sick old man. Cattunar has a difficult job playing the irascible and dislikeable Iris who has few redeeming features.

The play is loo long and the plot not quite credible. In the end, we do not care about any of the characters.

By Kate Herbert

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