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.
Saturday, 19 January 2013
Act A Lady, Jan 19, 2013 **1/2
Harrison, by 'By The Scruff Theatre Company' La Mama
Courthouse, until Jan 27, 2013 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Jan 19, 2013 Stars: **1/2
Review also published in Herald Sun, Fri Jan 25, 2013. KH
Lumicisi in Act A Lady
Act A Lady, by Jordan
Harrison, is aboutthree men in a small,
Midwest American town in 1927 decide to perform a melodrama for their annual
charity performance, dressed as 17th century French women.
Such immoral activity
sets tongues a-wagging, especially amongst the Women’s Temperance Society, but
the men discover that changing clothes also forces them to confront their
deeper, darker, feminine sides.
The play, directed by Andrew
McMillan, starts in Miles’ (Mason Gasowski) and his wife, Dot’s (Angela
Lumicisi) country kitchen, as they plan the performance with two locals, True
(Spencer Scholz) and Caspar (Kashmir Sinnamon).
The script then leaps
into the period-costumed, French revenge melodrama about an arrogant Countess
(Scholz), the scheming Lady Romula (Gasowski) and a maid (Sinnamon), who all
compete for the affections of a philandering Viscount.
In a peculiar structural
quirk, the play then returns to the men’s rehearsal scenes, depicting their
emotional crises as they wrangle with cross-dressing.
The second act begins to
challenge issues of transvestism and themes of gender and identity but,
disappointingly, the analysis is superficial.
Scholz and Cuthbert
relish the opportunity to prance in their frou-frou gowns while Sinnamon
captures the timid, sexual exploration of young, gay, Caspar.
Lumicisi performs witty,
accordion folk tunes, Cazz Bainbridge plays Lorna, the young make-up artist,
Julie-Anna Evans caricatures a whip-wielding, German director, and all three
also play the male characters’ alter egos.
The structure of the
script, however, is problematic: the intercutting of the play within a play is
unbalanced and the rehearsal scenes need to come before we see the final
The staging is awkward
and too much is performed in the restricted space in front of red, velvet
curtains, often rendering it static.
There are certainly
laughs in this production but the structure and staging leave it lacking some finesse.