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.
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Ugly Mugs, May 20, 2014 ***
By Peta Brady, by Malthouse Theatre; Co-production with
Griffin Theatre; Malthouse Theatre Commission (Malcolm Robertson
Foundation) Beckett Theatre, until 7
June, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ***
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Wed May 21 and later in print. KH
Brady and Steve Le Marquand; Photo: Pia Johnson
the perpetrators and the victims remain nameless and strangely anonymous in
Ugly Mugs, Peta Brady’s unsentimental, sometimes grimly comical play about
violence against sex workers.
draws on her experience working amongst sex workers to build the gritty
realism, vivid central character, hard-boiled dialogue and bluntly brutal
descriptions in the play.
37 year-old prostitute (Brady) lies on a morgue gurney chatting idly, even
cheerfully, to a forensic pathologist (Steve Le Marquand) who is, in fact,
investigating her death and performing her autopsy. (Not a spoiler as we know
this in the first minutes.)
a second narrative thread, a teenage boy (Harry Borland) and girl (Sara West)
meet in a park where they tussle and taunt each other in an awkward, possibly
dangerous game of cat and mouse.
play, directed unobtrusively by Marion Potts, is somehow more unsettling
because of the sheer ordinariness of the characters and because the violence is
described in a matter-of-fact way, rather than being enacted.
is chilling to hear the details of the woman’s autopsy as she enquires unemotionally
about the procedure and explains her recollections of the attack and her
plays her unnamed character with a disquieting cheerfulness and humour,
bringing to life this damaged, hard-bitten but warm woman who lived and worked
on the streets, collecting a list of ‘ugly mugs’- the men who wantonly abuse
Marquand cleverly balances the cool and clinical with gentle care for his vulnerable
second story thread is compelling at times, with Borland playing the mentally
unstable boy who craves contact with West’s stroppy, superficially tough, young
this relationship is ultimately less effective and not as satisfactorily
resolved as the main narrative.
problem is that the speech patterns in the teenagers’ dialogue echo tough,
street language but the actors’ inappropriately polished, middle class accents
do not match it.
Mugs is certainly a play with challenging, topical issues and it was with some trepidation
that I walked the darkened streets after the performance ended.
Steve Le Marquand &Peta
Brady; Photo: Pia Johnson
Direction / Marion Potts
Set & Costume Design / Michael Hankin
Lighting Design / Lucy
Sound Design / Darrin
Cast includes / Harry
Borland, Peta Brady, Steve Le Marquand, Sara West