Step, kick chorusing

A Chorus Line (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

January 31 – February 15

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“A Chorus Line” begins with audience members being rushed in to a Broadway audition. True to expectations, it is leg warmers and headbands, self-assurance and nerves as we look upon a cattle call audition of performers each dreaming of stardom and hoping to ‘get it’ (as one of the show’s signature songs signposts).

The authentic approach continues once the diverse group of characters is down to seventeen, when from the back of the tiered stalls seats, the show-within-a-show’s director Zack (Zander Tidmarsh) asks the dancers to share their names, ages, and a little bit of their backstory, that is where they come from and why they dance, as he attempts to shrink the group size further down to eight.

There is a clear undercurrent of troubled history between the largely one-note, brash and un-empathetic Zack and once star dancer Cassie (Jackie Brewster) back in New York after trying to make it in Hollywood, exploration of which brings us back after interval. But beyond this there is not much in the way of conflict. There’s not much in the way of narrative either. Instead, we hear the hopefuls telling their stories and breaking out into the occasional song and dance number as we learn about the dreams and backgrounds that have uniquely shaped their lives. Act Two slows with some confronting content, not only in the form of a lengthy monologue in which Paul (Phil Maas) tells his story of how he was kicked out of home while struggling with his sexuality.

A single location story and bare audition stage setting makes for easy staging. The almost pre-requisite mirrors appear at times at the back of the stage, however, mirror imagery doesn’t contribute significantly to key dance numbers apart from their use in Cassie’s big number, ‘Music in the Mirror’. However, despite the minimalism of its staging, the show is fraught with challenges, given the sheer size of its ensemble cast.

The iconic show, which revolutionised the notion of what a musical could be when it opened in 1975, presents the audience with a rotation of stories straight from real life. Each tale is based on interviews between Michael Bennett (who originally conceived, directed and choreographed the show) and his friends. And in Beenleigh Theatre Group’s hands, it is ably brought to life anew three decades after its record breaking 15-year Broadway run ended.

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As the lives of the dancers converge on the audition stage, performers all tell their characters’ stories with heart. Harley Coghlan is an early standout as the flamboyantly eccentric Robert and Aimee Monement commits to sour Sheila’s eye-roll obnoxiousness throughout her every gesture, action and reaction, even if this leaves little room for juxtaposition between her aggression and the pathos of her description of the role of ballet in offering her an escape from domestic conflict. As Cassie, Jackie Brewster tries her best to live up to the many mentions of her being the best dancer on the stage, especially given her character’s solo number and lengthy, but seemingly simple, dance routine.

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Ensemble numbers feature good harmonies, while Taylah McLennan gives a standout vocal performance as the animated Diana, leading the cast during the iconic but almost out-of-place ‘What I Did for Love’. And ‘Dance: Ten; Looks: Three’ (aka the Tits and Ass song) from Rockette wannabe Val (Tabitha Woods), will stay with you long after its conclusion. Meanwhile, the role of Richie, provides Abu Kebe with a wonderful showcase of his talent as a dancer. Although his character’s profile is relatively minor in comparison to other roles, his stage presence when dancing more than makes up for this.

The high energy step kick kick leap kick touch, again choreography (Director and Choreographer Stewie Matthews) is a real treat, especially given the large ensemble. It is simple, elegant and almost too big for the space (#inagoodway), especially in the singular sensation signature tune ‘One’, in which the dancers finally dance the chorus number for an unnamed and unseen star. However, some occasional obtrusive, strangely-hued spot-lighting detract from the impact of others.

Marvin Hamlisch’s score (“A Chorus Line” was the composer’s first Broadway show) fills the theatre with a variety of musical styles, which are delivered without fault by the live, unseen-until-encore band, led by musical director/conductor Steven Days. Its contribution to the glorious reveal of the show’s razzle dazzle finale in which the auditionees all reunite on stage for the final number, dressed identically in ironic removal of the individuality we saw in earlier scenes, makes for a magical moment.

As a meta musical about the making of a musical, “A Chorus Line” may be ground-breaking in its celebration not of the stars of a show, but their anonymous chorus members support, but it is not necessarily a musical that propels itself to the top of people’s list of favourites. It is at times intense and often humourous in its capture of the essence of a Broadway chorus audition and in Beenleigh Theatre Group’s hands, a comforting take back to the musical’s intimate roots and core emotions, which makes for an enjoyable night out in experience of a classic of the musical stage.

BTG’s notorious BNC

Bonnie & Clyde (Beenleigh Theatre Company)

Crete Street Theatre

November 15 – 30

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“Bonnie & Clyde” starts at its end, with the image of its titular American criminal couple sitting in a car, dead, accompanied by some energetic Bluegrass sounds (‘Prologue’). Before long, however, we are transported from the Louisville location of the folk hero couple’s final run’s end to their younger, hopeful Texas selves. At 10-year-old Bonnie’s (Denyella-Sophia Duncan) father’s funeral, the young girl shares her fantasy movie-star ambition, which is inset with young Clyde’s (Kieran McGinlay) juvenile delinquency and career criminal aspirations through idolisation of Billy the Kid and Al Capone (‘Picture Show’). Fast forward five years to the meeting of the car loving criminal Clyde (Connor Hawkins), just escaped from prison with his brother Buck (Brad Kendrick) and Rowena waitress Bonnie (Lauren Conway) and the rest, as they say, is history… only a history about whose detail we perhaps know very little. And so we discover the lover’s story as they journey from robbery to murder and folk hero status.

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Depression times are tough in the 1930s of Bonnie and Clyde’s two-year crime spree, with the businesses failing, banks collapsing and many people out of work. Still, as Clyde graduates from theft to murder, Bonnie agonises back and forth about following him down a fatal path (‘Too Late to Turn Back Now’), ultimately finding herself seduced by her growing fame as a ‘ravishing redhead’. As the tag-line from the also-named “Bonnie and Clyde” 1967 movie surmises, “they’re young, they’re in love, they kill people”. This also aptly sums up what goes on in the musical realisation of Bonnie and Clyde’s story. Still, under Kaitlyn Carlton’s strong direction, it is a pacey and engaging show, helped along by multi-media display of real-life newspaper headlines in chronicle of the ill-fated couple’s robbery spree and on-the-run rampage.

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While there are no real standout songs with the score, the music of “Bonnie & Clyde” (Composer Frank Wildhorn) works well in telling the show’s story, with its smooth combination of rockabilly, blues and gospel numbers. Under Musical Director Julie Whiting, the polished orchestra is flawless in its musical transitions. ‘God’s Arms Are Always Open’ conveys an infectious gospel energy courtesy also of Preacher Stuart Fisher’s compelling vocals (wonderfully revisited in Act Two’s opener ‘Made in America). And Act One’s finale, ‘This World Will Remember Us’, which sees Clyde convincing Bonnie to smuggle a gun into his cell so he can break out of prison, is a jaunty showcase of the talents of Liam Madden (drums/percussion) and versatility of Annie Silva (fiddle/mandolin/banjo) who both impress as standouts from the show’s very first number. Well-balanced orchestrations lay a solid foundation for the singers, never overpowering the vocals. And the beautifully orchestrated score is complimented by the honesty and emotion that the performers find within the music.

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Bonnie and Clyde’s mutual infatuation is obvious in their unquestionable loyalty; they convey a chemistry even as they quarrel (their favourite form of foreplay). Connor’s Clyde may be no bed or roses but he is charismatic. Indeed, despite his unlikeable actions and sometimes questionable treatment of Bonnie, audience members are on his side thanks to Hawkins’ magnetism. And his prison cell lament towards the end of Act One, ‘Raise A Little Hell,’ is a powerful moment thanks to his strong vocals. Conway, too, is vocally impressive, especially in her delicate Act Two solo, ‘Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad’, in which Bonnie passionately declares that she’d ‘rather breathe in life than dusty air’.

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Conway also impressively overcomes the inherit challenge of eliciting audience emotional investment in a character that spends the entire show making poor choices and determining herself to die by Barrow’s side. Indeed, there is much to like about the vigour she brings to the character, as her zealous anti-heroine rebellion is also boldly that of a woman in a time when women were not afforded equal rights. Kendrick captures the juxtaposition of Buck simple, but simultaneously complex supporting character, devoted to his wife Blanche (Katya Bryant) yet also eager to conspire with his daring brother. And Bryant gives a measured showcase of Blanche’s morality, love for her husband and fear for his safety, particularly platformed in the honest and heartbreaking ‘That’s What You Call a Dream’.

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Simple yet inventive staging (Production Design by Bradley Chapman) allows for swift set changes, although cohesion sometimes suffers due to missed sound cues and severe lighting switches. Mary Oliver’s costumes are, however, a standout. Outfits are era-evocative without being clichéd and appropriate to history’s most stylish bank robbers, with channel of Bonnie’s iconic beatnik beret and striped sweater blouse alongside general 1930s form-fitting, softly tailored style pieces.

“Bonnie & Clyde” is an interesting exploration of an infamous couple we know but not really. It’s also, however, a story about American dreams, giving it an ongoing resonance beyond its depression era setting. While its songs aren’t particularly memorable in and of themselves, this musical serves more as a complete experience than a sum of its parts. While, as Clyde’s sister-in-law observes, the characters deserve each other, Lauren Conway and Connor Hawkins give us memorable portraits of the notorious duo, making this “Bonnie & Clyde” quite the triumph.

 

Finding Fidelity

High Fidelity (Beenleigh Theatre Company)

Crete Street Theatre

June 28 – July 13

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Music-loving record shop owner Rob (William Boyd) is a self-centred, self-confessed everyman in his thirties going through a painful re-evaluation of his life and lost loves, with a little help from his music, in the hope of finding real happiness. By day, Rob holds court at his record store, which is where “High Fidelity” opens with one of its highlight numbers, the catchy ‘Last Real Record Store on Earth’. By this, we are also introduced to ‘musical moron twins’, his co-workers Barry (Lachlan Clark) and Dick (Isaac Tibbs) and learn of Rob’s breakup with lawyer Laura (Katya Bryant) who is now in relationship with new-age interventionist Ian (Bradley Chapan).

Their stories are ones that many know well; “High Fidelity” is based on British author Nick Hornby’s instant-hit 1995 novel and the 2000 film adaptation, which starred John Cusack and became a cult classic. As in their earlier incantations, armed with their collective encyclopaedic knowledge of all things musical, the trio of characters compile top five lists for every occasion, so of course Rob’s breakup prompts him to song with ‘Desert Island Top 5 Breakups’, as said women from his history sass about the stage. Things slow after the ballad ‘Ready to Settle’ when we find out the details behind Rob’s breakup, but Act Two momentums along in journey through a range of musical styles (This is a musical whose score is original but pays tribute to existing bands or songs, with influences for each listed in its program).

Act Two is full of musical highlights. ‘Conflict Resolution’ represents a wonderful parody number, on repeat, as Rob reflects upon alternative ways that he could have reacted during an uncomfortable conversation with Ian. Its Guns ‘N’ Roses, Beastie Boys and Snoop Dog segments are each as entertaining as each other in their distinction and give Aaron Hamilton a change to shine on drums. Parody also appears in a fantasy sequence, ‘Goodbye and GoodLluck’, during which Bruce Springsteen materialises to advise Rob how to be like The Boss. The number not only has the icon’s energy and distinctive rousing rock sounds, bit it even features appearance of The Big Man Clarence Clemons and a ‘Dancing in the Dark’ style Courtney Cox pull up onto stage to dance along.

Across the show, the small band does a stellar job with musicians often playing multiple instruments. Act Two’s opener ‘I Slept with Someone/Lyle Lovett’ offers opportunity for Tess McLennan to provide a softer, violin touch to the soundtrack, however, the lyrics of songs like ‘She Goes’, in which mutual friend Liz delivers some harsh home truths to Rob about his macho act, become difficult to decipher under the band’s boom. On-stage there is a clear energy to the songs and pleasing harmonies in the big choral numbers that see the company come together.

The trio of diverse record shop workers are brilliantly played, drawing upon but not allowing their performances to be defined by their famous film archetypes. Clark’s brash Barry is somewhat unlikable but undeniably funny in his angry, arrogant mania. Tibbs makes the painfully shy Dick a standout character, capturing his awkward insecurity in his every heightened reaction, especially in attempt to talk with women. Boyd is a relatable, flawed Rob and his conversational monologues to the audience from centre stage go some way towards capturing the story’s integral introspection, however, ultimately the production suffers somewhat due its departures from the story’s emotion for the sake of comedy.

While the story’s central pop culture threads are still evident, its honest observations about human relationship aren’t as readily apparent. Although Rob says he has changed from one who speaks with passion about the power of a well-curated mixtape to remedy all, we don’t really see his new-found emotional intelligence emerging, perhaps because of all the distractions on stage. Some moments are very funny, however, the laughs come mostly through throw-away lines not central to their scenes. And although little background details (beyond just seeing the “Beaches” soundtrack in the Hip Hop section) add amusement, there is a fine line between these being incidental additions and distractions from the main action.

It’s little details that prove to be the show’s undoing. While it attempts to pay homage to the music of geek culture, appearance of a Little Dum Dum Club tshirt in the ensemble, brings era authenticity into question. And although scene transitions are swift, choreography is a little rough around the edges and doesn’t always exploit the possibilities of the space.

As a musical “High Fidelity” will not be to everyone’s tastes as it includes course language and partial nudity. In some ways it is easy to understand how the Broadway production of the show closed after 18 previews and 13 regular performances, given its lyrics’ unimaginative rhymes of the ‘I’d be making fun of them …. I’m really one of them’ and ‘Now you finally got a winner. Did you even cook her dinner’ sort. And while though the iconic line ‘which came first the, music or misery’ makes appearance it seems that Rob’s unhappiness and this fidelity to its source material have been sacrificed for the sake of comedy, meaning that the narrative wears a little thin. It is not without its charm though and music still stands strong as a central theme, resulting in at least numerous opportunities for nostalgic indulgence courtesy of the record covers on display.

Virtually Victor victorious

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Victor Victoria (Beenleigh Theatre Company)

Crete Street Theatre

April 26 – May 11

After overture, “Victor Victoria” beings with a welcome of the “Cabaret” kind by resident performer Carrol ‘Toddy’ Todd (David Austin) at Chez Lui. It’s not Berlin, but rather 1930s Paris, where, we are told, there is no dream you can’t find. Toddy is the club’s flamboyant resident performer, clearly generous and with a heart of gold as he rescues down-on-her-luck, British soprano Victoria Grant (Jane Rapley). We are not in club long, however, as one of the production’s many efficient scene changes takes us to Toddy’s tiny apartment, where he has offered the penniless Victoria shelter from the wet wintry night. As a friendship is formed over tea, he comes upon a brilliant realisation: with a few superficial alterations Victoria would make a damn attractive man.

So the incredible decision is made to dress Victoria as a man and pass her off as the world’s greatest female impersonator from Poland to delight the whole of Gay Paree given her astonishing vocal range. As soon as the songstress find success in her new role, she falls for tough Chicago nightclub owner and implied gangster King Marchan (Michael McNish). He, in turn, is terrified to find himself falling for a man, so refuses to believe that Victor is as ‘he’ seems. Meanwhile his dizzy girlfriend Norma (Isabel Kraemer) is consumed by jealousy.

The musical comedy offers much of both aspects. Kraemer especially, as the shrill showgirl Norma out for revenge, gives audiences many laughs even during the lyrically lacklustre ‘Paris Makes Me Horny’. And when, by an unwelcome coincidence, King and Norma, and bodyguard Squash (Ryan Thomas) find themselves in the adjoining hotel suite to the newly successful Toddy and Victor, the ensuring “Noises Off” style cat and mouse physical comedy farce is a riot of missed opportunities, slammed doors and hidden-in-plain sight attempts to remain unnoticed.

Rapley is excellent in the complicated challenge of playing a woman playing a man playing a woman Although barely bedraggled in her initial struggle at the outset of the story, she is still delightfully endearing and vocally very impressive. Indeed, as Victoria, she is a victor, from her first song confide to Toddy ‘If I Were a Man’. Austin is charming as the genuine optimistic Toddy and the two have a great on-stage chemistry and rapport, best illustrated in their ‘You and Me’ song and dance number.

Although things are a little slow to start, Act One features the grand number, ‘Le Jazz Hot!’, which doesn’t really say much but introduces the immediate sensation of Victor to Paris café society. Despite some reoccurring out-of-step ensemble members detracting from its art deco-ish finesse, the big band centrepiece of the score makes for an opulent highlight. It’s an aesthetic that continues through to Act Two’s opener, when in Marie-Antoinette drag, Victor continues to take Paris audiences by storm in the patter song ‘Louis Says’, particularly noteworthy for its lavish costumes. Costumes are noticeably thematically considered throughout, such as when Victor meets and greets amongst a crowd of hued-pink apparel, however, musically, orchestration suffers from noticeably off-point brass sounds, from the outset of its overture.

While it is great to see an under-produced show such as “Victor Victoria” being embraced with such enthusiasm, it is troublesome nature is certainly apparent with its humour relying on the comedy of finding out someone is gay. Similarly, the way in which Victoria’s emancipation is viewed through modern audience lenses is not assured. Perhaps this is what makes it a guilty pleasure of a musical and while it may be an ambitious choice for a community theatre group, it is an ambition virtually realised in many regards, making it one of my favourite Beenleigh Theatre Group productions thus-far.

Anniversary score!

Oklahoma! (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

November 16 – December 1

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If there is one thing people know about Rodgers and Hammerstein, it is that they wrote incredibly catchy songs. This was the case from the musical theatre writing team’s first collaboration “Oklahoma!” and the enduring popularity the show is certainly evident in the capacity audience at Beenleigh Theatre Company’s 40th Anniversary production.

Under Conductor Julie Whiting, the 13-strong orchestra soars the audience through the musical’s memorable melodies in its lush and full overture, as its strings glide us into the opening scene of a golden hazed meadow with corn as high as an elephant’s eye. Even with the buoyancy of ‘Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’’ and ‘The Surrey with the Fringe on Top’, however, it takes a little while for the show to find its feet and natural dialogue rhythm of pace and pause to move the story along.

The ground-breaking musical presents a classic narrative: in 1906, in the Native American Territory that wouldn’t become the state of Oklahoma until later that same year, two men, cowboy Curly McLain (Connor Hawkins) and farmhand Jud Fry (Lachlan Clark), fight for the affections of farm girl Laurey Williams (Samantha Paterson).

The book musical evokes a range of audience emotions, including laughter. Allison Pattinson’s comic timing as the no-nonsense, respected community leader Aunt Eller sets this tone alongside Josh Cathcart’s simple, sprightly Will Parker who, having just returned from Kansas City, is full of happy-go lucky youthful exuberance in his quest to keep 50 dollars in his pocket to be allowed to marry the ‘Can’t Say No’ young Ado Annie (Terri Woodfine). Woodfine herself has perhaps the most fun on stage as the flighty, feisty Ado Annie who is in the terrible fix of trying to decide between cowboy Parker and a Persian traveling salesman Ali Hakim (Mike Zarate).

The significance of “Oklahoma!” as a musical milestone in its integration of songs and dances into the story often leads to consideration of only its quaint numbers, however, it is a show full of dark undertones. Beenleigh Theatre Group’s “Oklahoma” touches on this, through presentation of ranch hand Jud as more menacing outsider than misunderstood loner. Despite his fearful character, however, Clark allows his voice to shine through. Equally excellent, Hawkins brings a naturalness to his moments as the affable and charming cowboy Curly. His rich and resonant vocals are reminiscent of matinee-idol Howard Keel himself and they provide a solid base for blend with Paterson’s accomplished sound in the romantic duo’s playful duet, ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’.

Ultimately, “Oklahoma” is all about the music and some songs work better than others and are rightly reprised. While ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ sets the sunny tone that sweeps the audience into the score, ‘Poor Jud is Dead’, where Curly goes to the squalid shack where Jud lives to talk with him, is despicable in content, with Curly’s suggestion that since Jud does not feel appreciated, he could hang himself. Not only does the scene potentially stand in direct contradiction to any unknowing audience expectations of lightweight entertainment, but it drags an already-long Act One out even more.

Act Two emerges as a livelier affair, uplifting, warm and full of infectious energy. While its fight scenes sometimes fail to connect (#literally), there is much wit to its rousing, brass-filled opening chorus number, ‘The Farmer and The Cowman’. Indeed, the second act zings with humour and song, including the titular celebration of the territory’s impending statehood, which stands as a show highlight thanks to Hawkin’s gusto lead vocals.

Although lighting evokes the varied emotions of the end-of-Act-One dream becoming nightmare sequence that sees a confused Laurey imagining a life with Curly and then Jud, its leisurely choreography is now more nostalgic than innovative. Though not a choreographic highlight like the social dance inspired ‘The Farmer and The Cowman’, the dance still tells a story, so remains necessary for the narrative’s progression.

Although the show is longer than the usual musical length, at over three hours duration, Act Two’s action at least zips along under Mardi Schon’s direction. As such, the tribute to the American frontier seems very much like a show of two distinct halves, dark and torrid subtext and folksy romanticism and optimism of community spirit. The poise between respect and irreverence may not convey a precisely defined vision, but the show’s stylish orchestrations provide a fitting homage, contagiously celebratory in its special anniversary conclusion which, in matinee performance, saw many of the Group’s 1978 cast members joining on stage with the large cast of contemporary counterparts.

Doing The Doll justice

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (BeenleighTheatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

April 13 – 28

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Beenleigh Theatre Group’s “Summer of the Seventeenth Doll” begins with an old-fashioned movie projection in throwback to times ago when rolling Jaffas down the aisles and canvas chairs were the norm. It is an appropriate introduction to a work that is very much of its time, yet also universal in its themes of loyalty, friendship and tradition. Thorough its projection, we learn the backstory to the beginning of the iconic and ground-breaking 1955 Australian play. For the previous 16 years, cane cutter mates Roo and Barney have, for the five-month layoff each year, soared like eagles down from the sun to celebrate frivolously with their Melbourne barmaid girlfriends. Since the men last returned up north, Barney’s longtime lover, Nancy, has married a city man so Olive has invited a co-worker, the widowed Pearl, to partake in the tradition in Nancy’s place.

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This segues into a prim and proper Pearl (Claire Wigley) peering from the window of the modest Carlton terrace house recreated on stage.  Dressed in a sombre black ensemble, she seems to conflict with the colourful chaos of the world into which she’s been invited. Olive, (Jan Nary), however, clings to a reality that cannot continue, symbolised by the kewpie dolls that have been gifted to her by beau Roo (Andrew Alley) each year in tradition. With an eagerness that properly belongs in youth, she sees the five month layoff each year as making the other seven months worthwhile, such is her gospelised view of their shared history and determination to recreate that past, even though Nancy has left the arrangement behind to marry someone other than Barney (Ian Johnson).

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After the men’s arrival settles to their normality there are more words than action as backstory is revealed in conversation;  Roo has been usurped as team leader to the younger upstart Johnnie Dowd (who, when he later visits, and talks with next door neighbour Bubba, appears to be anything but) and is broke so has to take a job in a paint factory. As Act Two sees summer days sweltering towards new year it become clear that for many collective reasons, this summer is different from others, as although Pearl has cooled from an initial ‘Mrs Cunningham’ introduction to Barney, tension between the cane cutters only continues to simmer towards an ultimate stoush in shattering of the Australian traditional bush myth and idea of mateship.

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Humour is well used to lighten moments which could become too heavy in melodrama or sentimentality, making this an accessible tribute that does justice to the first great Australian play. Especially Olive’s formidable, wise fool of a mother Emma (Jan Nary) is a standout in this regard, providing some wonderful comic-relief in her snide remarks. But, at its core, this is idealistic Olive’s story and as the play’s tragic hero on the cusp of middle age, Julia Lefik is energetic in evocation of Olive’s intricate emotions, making the play feel real in its highlight of the beauty in the mundane. In contrast to her romanticism, the uptight, conservative Pearl is realised with some welcome hilarity by Wigley. Alley and Johnson work well to create tension between the stoic Roo and the fun-loving larrikin lover Barney, while as Bubba Ryan and Johnnie Dowd, Katya Bryant and Jarryd Pianca add a younger flavour into the mix.

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The sheer amount of dialogue required of the principal cast is, of itself, impressive, especially for a community based performing arts ensemble. And in their of-the-time accents, they evoke both the era’s vernacular and languid delivery of the dropped gs and missing vowels of its idiomatic language, in accordance with the work’s celebrated stark realism in portrayal of authentic working-class characters.

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Faithful staging is of a tatty room of worn period furniture, doilies, and wireless upon a seen-better-days upright piano, with pops of kewpie doll clutter as kitchy reflection of Olive’s childish dreams. The aesthetic was unfortunately affected by some Act Two sound issues at Sunday night’s show, but once resolved, the authentic appeal soon returned.

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Under Timothy Wynn’s considered direction, this realisation of Ray Lawler’s story stands the test of time as a product of its time … a time when almost every dress was to be paired with sensible black shoes and matching handbag, beer came only in longneck bottles, corned beef sandwich hors d’oeuvres were put together with toothpicks and it was ok to call a 22 year-old-girl Bubba and for her not to mind. Of course its colloquialisms and morals make it dated, but still it resonates with a modern-day audience not so much because of its quintessential Australian-ness, but more because of what it has to say about ordinary, relatable characters, their collective resistance to the fading of youth and the all-too-human gap between how they really are and how they want to be seen.

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‘The Doll’ as it is affectionately also known, is one of the nation’s most produced plays, such is its staying power, and whether it be as revisit or as first time audience member, its more marathon than sprint experience (the show sees a long three acts separated by two 15 minute intermissions) should prove a worthwhile one.