Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & playwright (21 plays). Pub. Currency Press. Teacher Scriptwriting since 2019, Melb Polytechnic; Worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation, Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Former Coordinator of Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 23 October 2014
The Trouble With Harry, Oct 23, 2014 ***
By Lachlan Philpott; MKA
Northcote Town Hall, Oct 17 to Nov 9, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Oct 23, 2014 Stars:*** This review will not be for the Herald Sun. I've written only a short review here and have not necessarily covered all elements. KH
Trouble With Harry is a theatrical representation of the startling story of a
real woman who passed as a man in early 20th century Sydney and was
convicted of murder in 1920.
Philpott’s necessarily makes assumptions about the life and interactions of
Eugenia Falleni, an Italian immigrant who dressed and lived as a man called
Harry Crawford (Maude Davey).
script balances the lyrical language of the narrators (Dion Mills, Emma Palmer)
with the more realistic dialogue between Harry and his wife, Annie Birkett
(Caroline Lee), his daughter, Josephine (Elizabeth Nabben) and Annie’s son (Daniel
There is much to recommend this production
with its disquieting story of the secret life of an illiterate woman who wanted
to be a man, was raped while working as a cabin boy, bore a child, gave the
baby to a childless woman, then “married” a woman and lived as a man.
Although the actors are present and audible in
the space, director, Alyson Campbell, requires the audience to experience the entire
performance through headphones that transmit the actors’ miked dialogue and
some occasional sound effects.
This is an unnecessary gimmick that makes the
experience physically uncomfortable and even painful (the headphones gave me
Although the intention may
be to create intimacy by audience hearing voices in our ears (what about people
who are deaf in one ear?) and to heighten the sense of voyeurism, for me it was
simply alienating and annoying
I kept removing ‘phones off
to hear the real voices so that I could discern who was speaking and from where
in the cavernous, period environment of the Northcote Town Hall
performances are strong from the entire cast but a particular mention must be
made of Maud Davey’s subtle, credible and sometimes poignant portrayal of
Harry/Eugenia as he shifts from comfortable family man to frightened rabbit on the
run. Davey is one of my favourite performers in Melbourne.