Thursday, 28 August 2003

Women, Men, Nazis and Trucks, Aug 28, 2003

Women, Men, Nazis and Trucks  
by Gaylene Carbis  and Michael Griffith  
La Mama at Fitzroy Gallery, Aug 28 to Sept, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Women, Men, Nazis and Trucks wins the award for grabbiest title. It is not a single play but a collection of seven short works. The title is a composite of all seven although the word Nazis is a red herring.

Gaylene Carbis and Michael Griffith write pieces on topics from phone to cleaners, jealous wives, parting lovers and suicide victims. There are two directors, (Jess Kingsford, Michael Griffith) and eleven actors to perform pieces that are mostly solos or duos that run five to fifteen minutes each.

Carbis writes about relationship, jealousy and loss while Griffith uses on a lateral view of life. The quality of both acting and writing varies. The earlier plays are the strongest.

Breakdown (Griffith) is a disturbing and quirky verbal play on a recorded Telstra disconnection message that provides the only dialogue.

Two women (Rohana Hayes, Tracy Carroll) sit with phone headsets and are trapped in a circle of repetition of the message.

Helen Slaney  performs two solos by Carbis. What Happens Between Men and Women is a simple but fascinating retelling of the moment a woman drove her partner away in a mad, jealous argument.

Remnants  is a moving outpouring of grief for the mother who is unrecognisable in her dementia.

The longest piece is Suicide Row (Griffith). Failed suicides are caught in an ante-room between life and death awaiting recovery and unpeeling their trauma to their companions.

Threads of Modern Encounters  (Carbis) is a sad monologue by a woman (Georgie Bolton) caught in an abusive deviant sexual relationship. The text is complex but the performance lacks emotional range.

In The Truck, (Michael Griffith), two cleaners on their break (Helen McFarlane, Mairead Curran) reveal their personal obsessions. One is wrangling with her lesbian lover by phone. The other has a chronic habit of lying down under speeding trucks. Their dysfunction is compelling but the piece goes past its ending several times.

Last is Other Woman  (Carbis) A couple (Bolton, Lee McDonald) are trapped, as were the phone message women, in a cycle of jealous interrogation. Who is the other woman who phoned? It is a good idea that needs some further work.

The range of material in Women, Men Nazis and Trucks is interesting and directors keep the work simple and direct.

By Kate Herbert

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