Friday, 15 November 2002

Lonely Lennie Lower by Barry Dickins, Nov 15, 2002

Lonely Lennie Lower  by Barry Dickins  
At La Mama  
Thurs & Sat 6pm Wed 8.30pm Fri 10pm Sun 4.30pm, until December 1, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Barry Dickins and one of his best-loved characters, Lennie Lower, (Simon King) share many attributes.

Both are comic journalists, both are unpredictable, outrageous, love a drink and shift between the hilarious and the tragic.

Lennie Lower was a real newspaper humorist during the Depression years in Sydney. He made money for Frank Packer's papers by writing scathing satire. T

Dickins deals with the fact that Lennie was desperately lonely because of his alcoholism and his inability to connect with others except to vivisect them for his column.

It is difficult to discern where Lower's own writing departs from Dickins'. Dickins incorporates Australianisms, witticisms, absurdities and jolly japes into Lower's dialogue.

"I am an animated gully trap," Lennie quips.

Simon King is alone on stage as Lower and makes a feast of it. His performance is charming and challenging. He shifts from raucous drunken hooting, through biting satirical jibes to the moving revelations of a sad, dying columnist.

Director, Lucy Freeman, sets the entire piece in a crowded La Mama space designed by Jonathan Leahey. OK) he lies in a stupor on a long, wooden pub bar draped with beer soaked towels.

Piles of old documents, his battered portable Remington and a decorative cash register surround Lennie.

His bottles of scotch and stout appear magically through the bar and he sups on glass after glass as he regales us with comic stories, jokes from his column and maudlin references to his loneliness.

Dickins has a powerful way of tossing us about on an emotional ocean. He shifts us from face-aching comedy to poignant stories.

King plays the humorist in his last hours, crippled with rheumatism, soaked in alcohol and steeped in resentment and rage at his wasted life.

He tilts into a gruff Frank Packer then into Lower's squeaky comrade in drink, William Ernest Presser.

Lonely Lennie Lower is one of Dickins early and best plays. It has nto dated and is a delight to see, particularly with Dickins in the audience heartily enjoying his own jokes.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment