Monday, 21 May 2012

The Weather & Your Health, May 15, 2012 ***1/2

The Weather and Your Health, by Bethany Simons
La Mama,  May 15 to 27, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 15
Stars: *** ½
Bethany Simons & Daniel Mottau

The character in Bethany Simons’ The Weather and Your Health, is sweetly naive and relentlessly optimistic as she relates episodes of her early life, courtship and marriage in Gilgrandra, a flat, dry Australian town she fondly calls ‘Gil’.

 This cheerful woman, based on Simons’ own Nan, was a child during World War Two, living in relative poverty with her father, a sanitary pan collector, until she married in the 1950s.

This is a gentle, physical self-narration that would be a monodrama if not for the husband (Daniel Mottau) who sits mutely in the background, listening to the races on his transistor radio while studying the Form Guide.

David Wicks directs this engaging, little play with simplicity and a light hand, focussing attention on the actorly skills of Simons and Mottau while maintaining this woman’s joyful innocence by purposely not presenting her through jaded, 21st century eyes.

Simons, barefoot, wearing a 50s frock and cyclamen-red lipstick, delights us with her quirky characterisation, cheeky grin and wide-eyed innocence.

She reminisces about her simple pleasures, including a glorious, red taffeta ball gown, playing piano at dances, being walked home by her husband-to-be.

From her repertoire of country cooking, she shares with us her foolproof, sausage roll recipe accompanying it with childlike, vocal sound effects.

Simons provides some enchanting theatrical morsels with her swiftly drawn and beautifully observed caricatures of her four, country town girlfriends.

We witness playful and poignant moments in her private, fantasy world when she channels the glamorous and exotic Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Although this is an unashamedly warm, positive show, there is poignancy in these romantic fantasies being ignored by her silent and effectively absent husband.

Careful not to intrude, confront or interrupt, this cheery and recognisable soul maintains her dignity and a brave face throughout her little life.  

By Kate Herbert 

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