Thursday, 31 July 2014

I Heart John McEnroe, July 31, 2014 ***

Concept by Clare Watson and Co-Created by Uninvited Guests
Theatre Works July 31 to Aug 10, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***
Review also published in Herald Sun online Friday, Aug1, 2014 and pater in print. KH
 Luke Mullins (L) and Bert la Bonté

You are not alone if you think of temper tantrums on a tennis court when you hear the name, John McEnroe, AKA The Prince of Petulance.

I Heart John McEnroe is an entertaining collage of playful parody and paper-thin psycho-analysis of that notoriously temperamental, US tennis champion.

On a realistic, green tennis court surface littered with tennis balls, five performers channel aspects of McEnroe’s personality and episodes from his life while exploring their own relationship to anger and their attitude to that much-criticised player.

Director, Clare Watson, devised the production with her talented cast: Natasha Herbert, Bert LaBonté, Luke Mullins, Katherine Tonkin and child performer, Ivy Miller, who is the voice of reason when the others chuck childish, McEnroe tantrums.

The structure of the piece is episodic, incorporating short vignettes and dialogues about McEnroe with crisp, movement sequences based on his recognisable gestures as he angrily criticises the umpire’s decisions.

The adult actors shift from playing McEnroe to playing themselves as they confront their own anger or taunt other actors to trigger angry outbursts in each other.

The cruel, personal teasing sparks a comically sulky scene from Mullins who is hassled for not being masculine enough to play McEnroe.

In a later scene, LaBonté deals with racial slurs from McEnroe’s celebrity friends when he plays African-American tennis player, Arthur Ash.

This depiction of harassment could all backfire, but it is cleverly balanced with wit and some gentle social commentary.

There are very funny moments, including Herbert’s hilarious depiction of Tatum O’Neill, McEnroe’s young wife, crawling along the tennis court white lines as if snorting cocaine.

Tonkin is pregnant (in real life) which provides plenty of comic mileage, including Herbert hurtling on stage to be Tonkin’s mistreated but relentlessly cheerful substitute in any vigorous choreography.

There is much potential in this entertaining, skilfully performed show. However, the seams are still visible in the devised format and it does not effectively penetrate the psyche of McEnroe or illuminate the psychology of anger.

By Kate Herbert

Directed by Clare Watson
Dramaturg and contributing Writer, Declan Greene
Designer, Jonathon Oxlade
Lighting Designer, Richard Vabre
Sound Designer and Composer, Jethro Woodward
Producer, Josh Wright
Cast: Natasha Herbert, Bert LaBonte, Luke Mullins, Katherine Tonkin and Ivy Miller.
 (L-R) natasha herbert, katherine tonkin, luke mullins, bert la bonte

No comments:

Post a Comment