Thursday, 3 August 2017

Credentials, Aug 1, 2017 ***

Written by David Williamson, La Mama 
At La Mama Courthouse, until Aug 13, 2017 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Aug 1, 2017
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Thurs Aug 3, 2017 and in print on Fri 4 Aug 2017. KH
Geoff Paine, Kayla Hamill. Pic Rachel Edward
Credentials marks the momentous return of renowned playwright, David Williamson, to La Mama to celebrate La Mama’s 50th birthday just 47 years after his first play, The Coming of Stork, premiered at the tiny Carlton theatre in 1970.

Williamson’s new play, directed with a light hand by Tom Gutteridge, relates the story of Chrissie (Kayla Hamill), a young woman who has a chequered past but now works successfully as a paramedic – although, in the first scene, her boss, Mr. Shore (Geoff Paine), discovers that all Chrissie’s qualifications are falsified. Yeah, really!

With Williamson’s usual combination of drama with social satire, Credentials challenges our views on social issues including drug addiction, violence and prostitution, while entertaining us with depictions of absurd but familiar missteps related to parenting, spoilt adult offspring, work and relationships.

The structure is episodic and shifts between the present, when Shore confronts Chrissie about her fake credentials, and Chrissie’s past when, as a 15-year old tearaway living in a dull, country town with her dominating father (Paine), she takes off to Sydney with her drug-dealing boyfriend, Rick (Zak Giles-Pidd), where she ends up in poverty and addiction.

Williamson peppers the compelling ethical issues with uncomfortable, dark comedy that often elicits laughs but sometimes falls flat.

Gutteridge focuses on character and story while keeping the staging uncomplicated, with actors watching the action from the edges of the space when they are not in scenes, and moving props during transitions.

Although the acting is uneven in the minor roles, Paine is a highlight playing the two contrasting, but equally confused fathers: Shore, the successful, middle-class, well-meaning parent, and Chrissie’s rough-edged, working class dad who can’t understand his daughter.

Giles-Pidd is entertaining and credible as Rick, playing him with a gritty, vibrating physicality and vulnerability, while Hamill gives feisty Chrissie an edgy and indomitable spirit that helps her overcome adversity.

Audiences will be split over whether they believe Chrissie should be allowed to continue to work as a paramedic despite her sham credentials, but Williamson certainly leaves us arguing about the ethical issues.

By Kate Herbert
Kayla Hamill. Pic Rachel Edward

Zak Giles-Pidd, Kayla Hamill. Pic Rachel Edward
Kayla Hamill - Chrissie
Geoff Paine - Shore & Bruce
Zak Giles-Pidd  -Rick
Paul Bongiorno - Mack
Nell Feeney- Rosy
Matt Furlani - Lenn
Yvette Turner-Jessica

Sound & Composition-Zak Giles-Pidd
Set costume-  Anastassia Poppenberg
Lighting -Jason Crick

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