24/09/2012 - 26/09/2012
TO BE … ohhh … an actress! What sweet tragedy it would be to be on the stage. But how did it come to be this? The farcical comedy of false moustaches and quick changes?! Ohhhh where is the spotlight? Where are the curtain-calls and flowers ?? Poor Ella. Poor poor Ella. Will she… ohhhhh will she ever be… an… actress???
Dates: Mon 24th, Tues 25th, Weds 26th Sept. (8pm)
Price: Full: $15 | Concession: $10
Cleverly crafted enchantment
Review by Julianne Boyle 27th Sep 2012
Living rough since the death of her father, Ella, played by Melinda Warner, has one consuming passion: she wants to be an actress. Naively optimistic and hungry for the adoration of the crowds, she’s confident that she has what it takes to succeed.
Forget farce and melodrama. She wants to cut straight to playing an Ophelia or Mariana. Any female part with emotional range. Prepared to bare her heart and soul, she hopes, one day, to have the opportunity to “die beautifully upon the stage.”
Will she be able to realise this dream?
So far, Gilbert (Nick Clothier) is the only person willing to give her a chance. He puts on shows in a pub. Hardly highbrow theatre. All he needs is someone to put on a fake moustache and play the part of a boy.
Jack (Alec Forbes), the other member of this little theatre troupe, isn’t happy with the new addition. She’s found a novel way to upstage him in his own scene.
Then there are all the other characters. Each cast member plays multiple parts. The drunken man with the beard (Alec Forbes) could prove dangerous, the upmarket director (Alec Forbes) may not be what he seems and the landlady (Melinda Warner) is far too eager to be a star herself.
Special mention must be made of Nick Clothier’s hag. Looking every bit the part and padded out with judiciously placed oranges, it’s a wonderful comic turn.
I am captivated, from the very outset, by the intentional theatricality of this piece. Ella’s not acting in a melodrama. She’s living one. There are plays within a play and this sets up interesting resonances as the lines between the different worlds begin to blur.
It’s a cleverly crafted script, fully exploiting all the relevant theatrical conventions. I especially love the onstage devising scene where Ella’s initial idea for a storyline is expanded to include highwaymen, steam locomotives and heroines plunging over cliffs.
As there is no programme; I don’t know whether this is Warner’s first attempt at playwriting. I am certainly looking forward to any future work.
Nick Clothier and Alec Forbes both give excellent performances in all their roles. Melinda Warner has an obvious connection with the emotional vulnerability of the Ella character.
The play is well directed by Alec Forbes and I like the simplicity of the set. There are also some great costume changes on stage, especially when Gilbert is preparing Ella for her first stage appearance.
This Ella may not be enchanted but she is certainly enchanting. Well worth a look.
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