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.
Saturday, 11 October 2014
Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday, Oct 11, 2014 ***1/2
Created by Roslyn Oades & Collaborators, Malthouse Theatre Beckett Theatre, Malthouse; Oct 9 to 26, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sat Oct 11, 2014. Stars: ***1/2 Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Monday Oct 13, 2014 and later in print. KH
L-R Diana Perini, Haiha Le, Jim Daly, Roger Oakley,Evelyn Krape: Pic Jeff Busby
personal stories and foibles of real people are eminently more interesting than
many fictional characters.
Roslyn Oades, clearly believes this because her audio-script for Hello, Goodbye
and Happy Birthday exclusively uses her interviews with real people who are over
80 and living in aged care, and 17 or 18 year-olds in high school.
is Verbatim Theatre, which means that the production uses recordings of actual
words spoken by real people in their daily lives and the result provides an
insight into the worlds of the young and old interview subjects.
makes this different from other Verbatim Theatre pieces is that the actors, who
wear headphones, listen to and replicate the voices of their characters
simultaneously, a method that heightens the immediacy and truth of the
of the six performers are the same age as the interviewees but much of the
humour arises from Oades casting the three older actors (Evelyn Krape, Jim
Daly, Roger Oakley) as teens and the three younger ones (Haiha Le, Diana
Perini, Matthew Connell) as oldies.
we hear and see is a collision of realities, a juxtaposition of the 18
year-olds’ ebullient, puppy-like youthfulness against the 80 year-olds’ lack of
energy and more sedentary, introspective lives.
kids are loud, over-confident and tribal while the elderly are quieter, warmer,
more self-deprecating, although one common behaviour is that both groups laugh
aged look to the past, replaying their memories and viewing their lives with
acceptance and resignation, while the kids look into the future with hope,
creating visions of their yet-to-be lives.
highlights include Daly’s touching 80th birthday speech, Krape’s
frenetic, boyfriend-obsessed 18 year-old, Oakley’s inarticulate boy who likes
guns, Le’s determined Chinese woman, and Perini’s cheerfully assertive, Italian
the most beautifully poignant story is told by Connell as the elderly man who
struggles to tell his painful story about caring for his wife who has dementia.
naturalism extends to the set design (Christina Hayes) that looks just like a
community hall decorated for an 80th birthday party, with an upright
piano in a corner, a hot water urn bubbling in the background, tea cups laid
out on a table and a cake with plenty of candles.
are some charming and hilarious scenes in this show although the structure is
not quite coherent or cohesive and needs some rejigging to clarify the links
between the two age groups and to counterpoint their differences more
L-R Mathew Connell, Diana Perini, Haiha Le, Jim Daly; Pic Jeff Busby
L-R Haiha Le, Evelyn Krape, Diana Perini; Pic Jeff Busby