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
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
 Maude Davey

The 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.

Lachlan 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).

The 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 Last).

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 headache).

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

The 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.
By Kate Herbert 

Director - Alyson Campbell
Set & Costume -Eugyeene Teh
Lighting - Rob Sowinski
Sound/Composition - Chris Wenn
Choreographer - Georgia Taylor

Emma Palmer
Dion Mills
Caroline Lee
Daniel Last
Maude Davey
Elizabeth Nabben

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