Six glimpses into secret lives
By Margaret Wieringa
Melbourne Writers’ Theatre has been around since the early eighties, with a vision of developing Australian plays and playwrights, and The Melbourne Monologues is part of their annual Page to Stage season. Six monologues were featured, performed by five actors, all directed by MWT Resident Director and Dramaturg Elizabeth Walley.
Each monologue was extremely different to the others, yet there were some strong similarities; damaged people, often putting on a strong face to the world whilst things fall apart behind. At times, the performances could have used more space to let the drama of each situation settle. Certainly, each performer captured a particular essence of the character and while no character was totally lovable, the audience was on the side of each and every one. Christine Croydon’s take on Post Traumatic Shock Disorder in returning soldiers, with Alec Gilbert as the soldier attempting to settle back into civilian life, churned from calm and almost collected to explosive outbursts of distress and anger. Similarly, I’m a Certainty by Bruce Shearer had Sean Paisley-Collins, a wannabe winner lurching from affable and hopeful to aggressive and pained.
Lost saw Miliyana Cancar playing a somewhat undefined character who seemed to be totally in control and yet without any power at all, and it seemed the ambiguity in the writing allowed Cancar to take the character wherever she wanted. Many of us have experienced the Cry of a Forgotten Woman – whether it be dementia, or abuse, or simply age and incapacity, the plight of the aging woman is often ignored, and it was curious to see Brenda Palmer play a woman who celebrated both the good and tragic parts of her past.
It is always a challenge to have a character that is quite unlikable pluck at our heartstrings. Carmen Saarelaht has written a woman who has a powerful husband and stands by his side, regardless of her regrets. Carolyn Masson played up both the strengths and flaws of the character, but for me she took the night with her delivery of her final line.
The evening was rounded off with the humorous I Love You, written by Neil McGovern. Alec Gilbert returned to the stage rapidly firing lines through a wire door to a mysterious, unseen character who he both loved, yet could not let in.
It’s important to support these emerging and established playwrights, and I looked forward to seeing where their future endeavours take them.
Where: The Carlton Courthouse Theatre
When: Tuesday October 20 – Sunday October 25