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.
Thursday, 5 September 2013
Lost In Ringwood, Sept 5, 2013 ****
Barry Dickins, La Mama La Mama Courthouse , Sept 5 to 22, 2013 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:**** Review also published in Herald Sun online on Sept 9, 2013 and later in print. KH
Carolyn Bock & Helen Hopkins. Photo by Antony Rive
In Barry Dickins’
hilarious play, Lost in Ringwood, the banal collides with the literary and the
intellectual meets the idiotic.
Dickins is the gift that
keeps giving, with his idiosyncratic style that I call ‘poetic suburbanism’,
and Greg Carroll’s inventive direction heightens the grotesque and the gothic,
dovetailing pathos with absurdity and a few songs (Faye Bendrups).
A mother and daughter
play out their warped, co-dependent relationship that is based on conflict,
mutual loathing and despair – and plenty of insults and manipulation.
Helen Hopkins plays the
poisonous and conceited Mama, Rose Viper, with a pinched, sneering cruelty and
a burning nostalgia for her youth as an actress.
Carolyn Bock balances
poignancy with comedy as her unloved daughter, Cynthia (Rose calls her ‘Sin’),
shifting from fawning child to insecure romantic hoping for love – and a
The production design
(Peter Corrigan) looks delicious with its milky-silky drapes and the women
costumed (Amelia Carroll) in an icy confection of lace and tulle, frothy
ice-cream headdresses, blood-red shoes, zombie-white faces and scarlet lips.
The audience howls with
laughter then, just as the show seems to run out of steam, it surprises us
again with more pathos, tragedy and hilarity.
There is an inspired,
black-and-white, on-screen appearance of sleek, handsome, Hollywood TV star,
Guy Williams, who played Zorro then John Robinson in Lost in Space in the 60s.
The script is riddled
with witty word play – Ringwood becomes‘Ringworm’ – and a comic highlight is Mama’s rant that compares Hitler’s
Third Reich with a greedy Ringwood Council.
“We used to be happy
before you listened to Leonard Cohen,” laments Rose. “How one longs for a kind
word – even if it comes from Bentleigh.”
Lost in Ringwood is
hysteria on valium and it proves that a misery shared is definitely not a
misery halved in this dysfunctional family.