Don’t let the title deter you…
By Myron My
Hope Is The Saddest debuts at La Mama as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and revolves around three people, Hope (Michelle Robin Anderson), Theo (Jeffrey Jay Fowler) and Marion (Natalie Holmwood) – who, after a chance encounter, are inexplicably drawn into each other’s lives for better or for worse.
What follows is each individual’s attempt at finding hope in their lives and how they help each other in some way, shape or form to achieve this. Through this hope they experience happiness, joy, regret, sadness, anger and despair.
Despite not actually appearing in the play (as such), Dolly Parton’s presence and influence on these people is obvious with her songs creating the soundtrack to the show, constant references being made to Parton and the life-size cardboard stand-in of her on stage that assures she will remain omnipresent throughout.
All three actors excel in their depictions of Hope, Theo and Marion and really capture their essence and bring them to life, which is not as difficult a task for an actor when you have a script as strong as this. Fowler’s script does not allow for any words to be wasted. Everything spoken is vital to the progression of the story and he has endowed the three characters with three distinct voices. There is also a perfect blend of humour and sadness in this script, just like life, and includes such cheeky dialogue gems as “just get over being gay and stick your tongue in…”
The La Mama stage is divided up into three locations, and considering how small the space is this would not have been an easy thing to devise. Using a large dollhouse to represent Marion’s home was an ingenious idea.
There are a number of interesting narrative devices used in Hope Is The Saddest to further the story that are worth acknowledging. There is the standard dialogue between characters but there are moments where all three actors speak in unison to the audience like a Greek chorus, a split-scene of letter reading and of course, lip-syncing and dancing to some Dolly songs.
Hope Is The Saddest is a beautiful comedic story interspersed with the harsh realities of life. And pancakes. And of course, Dolly Parton.
Venue: La Mama, 205 Faraday St, Carlton
Season: Until 14 April | Wed, Sun 6.30pm | Thu-Sat 7.30pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession