The Bard has a lot to answer for…
By Beth Cregan
Take one young, intense actor (Louise O’Dwyer) totally committed to perfecting her craft (she’s earnest in that ‘bring own thermos of tea and sandwiches’ kind of way!) Add an experienced, caffeine-powered matriarch (Maureen Hartley) who’s been around the traps. She’s seen it all but more importantly, she knows it all too! Mix in a tired theatre director, (Peppa Sindar) who would love her job, if it wasn’t for the damn actors.
Cast all three characters in a performance, add a misplaced techie and an absent writer to take the flak and you have the makings of a playful drama set in the theatre world. From hilarious warm-up exercises to well-worn power plays, The Play’s The Thing shines the comic spotlight on what happens when words (and egos) collide. Thankfully, despite the conflict and constant coffee breaks, Shakespeare wins out in the end.
Clever writing and superb characterisation create this dialogue-driven drama. Set at La Mama’s Theatre, the close proximity of actors and audience help create the ‘fly on the wall’ intimacy that works so well for this comedy. Louise O’Dwyer and Maureen Hartley pair beautifully in this play and their strong characters certainly bring the script to life. Defined in opposition, their need to control ‘their patch‘ keeps the tension tight. Peppa Sindar as the Director skillfully balances the energy between them. Mind you, her character could circumvent a fair amount of the drama by stepping up to the plate a little sooner, but then we’d miss out on some classic and memorable scenes like Dwyer’s vocal warm-ups and Hartley’s demonstration of physical theatre.
This talented cast of actors not only earn the audience’s laughter, but they work seamlessly to perform a multi-layered, complex play within a play. Written and directed by Brenda Palmer, you won’t need any inside knowledge of the theatre world to enjoy this performance. You’ll recognise these characters anywhere.
The Play’s The Thing is playing at La Mama Theatre from February 20 – March 2, 2014. Tickets available online at http://lamama.com.au/summer-2014/the-plays-the-thing/