Saturday, 19 January 2013

Act A Lady, Jan 19, 2013 **1/2

By Jordan 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
 Angela Lumicisi in Act A Lady

Act A Lady, by Jordan Harrison, is about three 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 performance.

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.

By Kate Herbert 

Directed by Andrew McMillan

Cast: Kashmir Sinnamon, Angela Lumicisi, Cazz Bainbridge, Mason Gasowski, Spencer Scholz, and Julie-Anna Evans.

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