Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Stories I want to tell you in person, Aug 13, 2013 **1/2

Written & performed by Lally Katz, Malthouse Theatre
Beckett Theatre, Malthouse, Aug 13 to 25, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on   
Aug 13,  2013
Stars: **1/2

Review also published in  Herald Sun online on Wed Aug 14, 2013 and later in print. KH
You may think Lally Katz’s solo performance, Stories I Want to Tell You in Person, is self-indulgent claptrap, or self-referential confessional theatre, or even stand-up comedy in the wrong venue.

Katz is not only the writer of this performance, but also the performer and the subject, and she regales the audience with tales of her life, playwriting, love and her obsessive visits to psychics.

In almost all Katz’s plays (apart from The Golem Story), she is on stage as a voice, or narrator, or just referred to by name.

She admits on stage that she is not an actor, and her limited acting skill shows in her awkward delivery and the lack of dynamic range in her narration, her damaged voice and some clumsy segues between stories.

Katz’s intentionally awful karaoke singing of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina is truly frightening –  albeit funny – but leaving an audience to “talk among yourselves” while she changes costumes is just lazy and annoying.

The performance, directed by Anne-Louise Sarks, is 30 minutes too long, but Katz channels three very funny people during her stories about plundering her personal life for characters for her plays.

She inhabits Anna, a feisty, rude, elderly Hungarian woman who accosts Katz on the street one day and becomes Katz’s friend and prime resource for a character.

Cookie, the brassy, New York psychic/charlatan, is a riot as she manipulates Katz into paying an arm and a leg for a psychic reading and the removal of an ancient curse.

Enter a second sham psychic called Bella: shabby, unhealthy, cynical and just as shady and grabby as Cookie.

Katz admits using her own life – rather than intensive research – as the foundation for her plays, but her most successful play, The Golem Story, was well researched and did not even mention Katz herself.

What is illuminating and alarming here is Katz’s revelations about the manner in which her new work is commissioned and executed by major theatre companies.

It seems that Katz’s friends will love this confessional memoir performance, but perhaps it is unlikely to have broad appeal.

By Kate Herbert

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