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.
Monday, 10 February 2003
Mavis Goes to Timor, Feb 10, 2003
Mavis Goes to Timor by Katherine Thomson, Angela Chaplin and Kavisha Mazzzella Playbox and Deckchair Theatre, Perth
Feb 10 to March, 2003
Mavis Goes to Timor
feels more like a good long chat with a few women than a play. There are various
reasons for this. The story is based on the experiences of a mother and
daughter, Mavis and Elwyn Taylor from Yarrawonga.
In the play, Mavis (Anne Phelan) announces to her extended family at her 86th birthday
party that she is going to East Timor to set up sewing
centres for the women.
This is the core of the
story. The writers, Angela Chaplin and Katherine Thomson, saw the documentary
on SBS of Mavis's trip to the decimated country after its free election. The strength of the
play is its truthful telling of the story. As Mavis, Phelan is charming, hearty
Mavis herself is
cheerful and motivated, undeterred by obstacles. Her only negative moment is
the day she arrives in East Timor and sees the devastation of the landscape. The other two actors
are also compelling. As Elwyn, Kerry-Ella McAullay is delightfully cranky and opinionated.
Her country ways, blunt speech and
impatience endear her to us as she fights for the women of Timor. McAullay's singing
voice is rich and melodic. Each song she sings is rivetting.
As the Timorese
woman, Mariana, Cidalia Pires grabs our hearts. She reveals to us the
indescribable loss, grief and near annihilation of these people. She represents
their grim determination to survive and never to hand over their homeland.
Her speech about
tossing her child over a razor wire fence in the United Nations compound to save him is a glimpse into the
desperation that drove these people.
songs are interspersed with original songs written by Kavisha Mazzella and performed by Mazzella with Marco Quiroz
and a choir of about fifty.
The music underscores
the dialogue that is further enhanced by original video footage of the Timorese
(Nancy Jones). Huge yellow
containers create the flexible set designed by Michael Betts.
This is a play in
the style of the 1980's political theatre pieces. It is didactic and overtly
political. The actors frequently talk directly to us in long speeches. Its message is
clear: We abandoned the Timorese who helped us in the World War II. It is time we came to their aid.