Thursday, 30 September 2004

No Grace by Mick Muldoon, Sept 30, 2004

No Grace by Mick Muldoon 
La Mama, Carlton, Sept 30 to Oct 10, 2004

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Mick Muldoon's play, No Grace, cleverly unravels a plot involving a murder and three men connected with the crime.

Dominic Pedlar inhabits three discrete characters who appear consecutively on stage.

Muldoon shows us how facts can be deceiving. He cunningly has each of the three men providing us with another piece of the jigsaw about the robbery and murder of Andrew Stewart, a young, wheelchair-bound man.

First we encounter the naïve, fumbling council worker, Mick Ellis, as he awkwardly tries to set up a video camera. He then records a message to his 9-year old daughter, Grace, explaining he has not done that of which he is accused.

Mick is the dupe and had fallen prey, we discover later, to his mate, Des, and a lawyer.

The second character is Mick's slick, prosecution lawyer in a respectable suit. Jeremy Mayo prowls the stage, addressing us directly, manipulating circumstantial evidence to manufacture a credible case against poor, gullible Mick.

Finally, we meet Desmond Pickering who is in a low security jail thirteen years later. A young lawyer (Sally Bull) interviews him, appearing on a video monitor. Des is a seedy, sly criminal. We wait to witness his downfall at the hands of this unknown young woman.

Pedlar, directed by Greg Carroll, is on stage throughout, even changing costume between characters on stage. He creates a truly sympathetic character in Mick who is clearly incapable of such a crime.

We like Mick but fear the worst for him as Pedlar demonstrates how he is videotaping evidence to incriminate himself.

Pedlar plays Des, or Uncle Des as Mick's daughter, Grace knows him. with a rat-like cunning and edginess. Des is jumpy, abusive and defensive.

But the real villain here is the smug lawyer. Pedlar finds the still, almost hidden smirk and the character's own delight in massaging the facts in his closing address to the jury.

Pedlar's physical and vocal distinctions between characters could be stronger. The transformations were not quite complete but the message was clear.

The legal system is fallible, the weak can be victimised by the strong and self-interested and justice is not always done.

LOOK FOR: The lawyer manipulating evidence in his closing address

By Kate Herbert 

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