Tuesday, 19 May 2009
About Face, May 19, 2009 **1/2
By Tony Perez
La Mama Carlton Courthouse
May 19 to May 30, 2009
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
About Face is a peculiar theatrical beast – a series of six, short vignettes for a man and a woman (Bruce Hughes, Karen Lawrence). Each story is about a different couple but has the same premise: a married couple takes a long drive and talks about the marriage and the man’s affair with another woman.
Tony Perez’s script is not particularly insightful about marriage or communication nor does it take theatrical risks. However, it manages to conjure six totally different married couples, five of which seem to be totally dysfunctional and bonkers. This provides some laughs for the audience.
The first story is Tony and Charmaine’s Contract. Tony is almost silent and cowed by his wife’s antics as they drive the highway somewhere outside Melbourne. Charmaine is annoying and pedantic as she demands honesty at all costs. She gets more than she bargains for, but accepts Tony’s choice to maintain his love affair.
In Smaramaloola, Hughes plays a smarmy, lying Latin lover who spends the entire drive talking vivid, poetic drivel in order to convince his childish, weeping and histrionic wife that his affair was a mistake and is his one and only love.
Last Ride is a suicide drive in which the couple, a geek and his over-dressed wife, dress up and drive over a cliff into water at the end. They invite their friends and his lover to watch their end – and film it.
In the crazy dumb show, Roar Hide, the woman taunts her husband as he drives until she finally calls him a two-timer. The two loud, aggressive bogans in Gunbarrel Highway abuse each other with colourful language that is almost grunge poetry.
The final, poignant scene is between Tony and May, the only couple who seem to genuinely love each other and have a positive relationship. He quietly weeps and we slowly realise that May is dying.
Hughes and Lawrence, seated in a cartoon-like car, execute quick costume and character changes between scenes. Hughes is charming and versatile in his six roles and has great comic timing. Lawrence’s performance is strongest in the final, more realistic scene, but seems uncomfortable and forced in earlier scenes.