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.
Thursday, 8 March 2007
Grace by GoD BE IN MY MouTH, March 8, 2007
Grace by GoD BE IN MY MouTH By James Brennan
Theatreworks, March 8 to March 2, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on March 8, 2007
There are certainly some compelling performances and eccentric images and concepts in Grace, written and directed by James Brennan. However, the whole of this abstract piece is not as well conceived as its individual parts.
Although the play has a simple linear story, the style relies more on absurdism than on narrative. Wade (Luke Mullins) and Serbia (Katrina Milosevic) are 14-year old twins who were separated at age four and raised in foster homes.
The play is set on the crumbling roof of a building (Adam Gardnir OK) where they believe their rich uncle, whose wealth they will inherit, is in residence. After attending their father’s funeral, they climb ten flights of stairs to a rooftop inhabited only by pigeons and wait for uncle to show himself.
The twins are an unlikely pair. Serbia is large, loud, vulgar and belligerent while Wade is small, timid, dull and child-like. Both wear school uniforms but Serbia’s is tattered and makes a fashion statement with the addition of torn black tights and heavy make-up.
Here the play leaves the real world. The most attention-grabbing images occur inside a huge, upstage birdcage with three life-size pigeons. The Uncle, played with alacrity by Brian Lipson, spends most of the play inside the cage dancing a slow, sensual, bird-like dance, climbing his wire walls like a caged parrot resigned to his prison.
Milosevic captures the volatility of Serbia and Mullins makes the peculiar Wade a little dangerous. Despite their strong performances, Lipson is the feature of this play. He manages to make the Uncle intense yet relaxed, engaging yet alienated, beautiful and repellent, dangerous but caring.
This birdman is dressed in a dilapidated black suit and huge sunglasses. When he does emerge to meet the children, his behaviour is eccentric. He swills water from a bucket, speaks in cryptic phrases, sings snatches of a hymn, offers them something bottled in 1997 and instructs the pigeons to perform a “masque” for the three humans. The birds are his servants.
Uncle’s weirdness does not bode well for Wade, who has hopes for a family life, or for Serbia who wants to take his money and run. By the end, Uncle has revealed his past and theirs and made sure they will be twins forever.