- Kate Herbert
- From: Herald Sun
- July 01, 2011 10:39AM
Saturday, 9 July 2011
Turns, by Reg Livermore, July, 1, 2011
Turns, by Reg Livermore ***
TURNS, by Reg Livermore, Playhouse, at the Arts Centre, until July, 2011
IF YOU'RE expecting Nancye Hayes and Reg Livermore to reprise all their memorable characters, scenes and songs in Turns, think again. This show is a different beast altogether.
Though these two veterans of the stage do a few theatrical turns and share a few songs and dances, they rather take turns performing two extended, quirky monologues written by Livermore and directed by Tom Healey.
Hayes' character - the delightfully demented, verbally muddled, 95-year-old Marjory Joy Moncrieff - is the focus of the first half, though Livermore appears intermittently in Marjory's cartoon-like world of dementia as her shadowy son Alistair.
As Marjory, Hayes is a whimsical combination of crazed poppet and overbearing panto dame, dressed in frills and flounces, a perky bonnet, red wig and painted cheeks.
Marjory reminisces about her imagined stage glories, a failed marriage and fears that her son is poisoning her, though we discover that most of her memories are false.
Hayes peppers Marjory's rantings with snatches of song, comically awkward dances and hilarious misuse of words.
Because Livermore wrote this black comedy in a style recalling his early stage characters, he is comfortable with Alistair's circuitous, satirical monologue and balances perfectly the elements of comedy and tragedy.
Livemore is dignified and restrained as Alistair, toasting his mad mother at a lonely wake for one and relating his poignant tale about his mother's delusions, paranoia and abuse of her beleaguered but loyal son.
Accompanied by versatile pianist Vincent Colagiuri, the show finishes with Livermore and Hayes singing a couple of songs to delight, and perhaps satisfy, the audience's desire for a show tune.
Star rating: ***