MY BRILLIANT DIVORCE
24/08/2012 - 01/09/2012
This one woman show features Elsa May as Angela, a middle aged woman suddenly confronting life after the breakup of her long term relationship.
“For the unexpectedly single,
With love and sympathy.” Geraldine Aron
The action takes place in London. Time: The present.
In this beautifully observed one-woman play, middle-aged Angela attempts to find a new life when husband Max leaves for a younger woman. Using a skilful blend of comedy and pathos, she recounts her journey back to happiness ….
“… there are some great jokes … not least the disastrous dates, first with a tiny man whose legs dangle over the edge of his chair like those of a ventriloquist’s dummy, then with an appalling, name-dropping stud from the record industry. And the sequence when Angela goes to a sex-shop to buy a vibrator is a small masterpiece of comic embarrassment. … A peculiarly frosty heart is required to resist My Brilliant Divorce.” Daily Telegraph
… “Geraldine Aron’s script is absolutely gorgeous … It has marvellous, grounded warmth and humour, and it ripples with wonderful, tiny moments.” GAT. Kate Copstick
“… razor-sharp, life’s-like-that observations.” Daily Express.
“Geraldine Aron’s pacey script littered with one-liners and anecdotal sarcasm …” The Stage.
My Brilliant Divorce premiered in Galway, Ireland in November 2001 and opened in London in February 2003 with Dawn French as Angela. A recent New Zealand production has starred Ginette McDonald.
Dunedin Repertory Society
Playhouse Theatre 31 Albany Street Dunedin
24th August until September 1st
at 7.30pm except Sunday at 4pm and no performance Monday
Bookings phone (03)4776544
ELSA MAY … as … Angela
AXL … as … Axl
with the voices of
DIRECTOR: LEWIS ABLETT KERR
PRODUCTION MANAGER: JILL MOORE
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER: IMOGEN DUNCAN
SET DESIGN: LEWIS ABLETT KERR
SET CONSTRUCTION: CHRISTINE COLBERT, ANDREW COOK, ELSA MAY, JILL MOORE
LIGHTING DESIGN: BRIAN BYAS, REBECCA HENDERSON, JOEL LABES, DAMON LILLIS
LIGHTING OPERATOR: DAMON LILLIS, REBECCA HENDERSON
SOUND OPERATOR: BROOK BRAY
PROPERTIES DESIGN: JANE KERR, JILL MOORE
DESIGN (AXL): ADAM GORRIE
OPERATOR (AXL): ADAM GORRIE, KEN GORRIE
SCRIPT CONTROL: IMOGEN DUNCAN
POSTER DESIGN: JANE KERR
PHOTOGRAPHY: MARELDA GALLAHER
PUBLICITY: CHRISTINE COLBERT, DANNY STILL, IMOGEN DUNCAN
FRONT OF HOUSE: CHRISTINE COLBERT
Charm, comic skill in one-woman show
Review by Barbara Frame 26th Aug 2012
Dumped. It happens to women all the time, but when Angela’s husband ditches her for a succession of younger women she’s no better prepared than most. With sudden singleness come loneliness and a heap of other miseries: money worries, awful jobs, solitary attempts at holidays, social insecurity, disastrous dates, gruesome seductions and glimpses of a bleak and unloved future.
Geraldine Aron’s one-woman comedy is fairly recent (2001), but its Bridget Jones theme and feel make it seem a little dated. This is compensated for, though, by the appeal of its character: Angela is by turns dotty, resourceful, often totally misguided, and funny. Elsa May brings considerable charm and comic skill to the part, and her performance succeeds in making the audience identify with and care about her character.
Directed by Lewis Ablett Kerr, it features a stylish set depicting Angela’s middle-class living room. Recorded voices of significant people in Angela’s life – her conventional and disapproving mother, the ex-husband whom she’s taken to calling “Roundhead,” and the generally useless people on the other ends of help-lines – provide variety, and there’s an ingenious solution to the practical problem of having a dog on the stage.
While this is good girls’-night-out material, just about anyone can identify with Angela’s predicament and enjoy the show. The season will run until September 1.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Delightful streak of mischief saves naïve vulnerability from being maudlin
Review by Terry MacTavish 26th Aug 2012
Divorce is not part of my life-experience. It is all too easy, however, to find a divorced friend to check the veracity of Geraldine Aron’s one-woman play. “Oh yes,” she assures me, “I’ve got a whole diary filled with all that, except that it lacks the humour which makes the play so lovely.” So real, she says, all those silly little things, like who gets custody of the married friends. “It’s like being taken back there, but this time being able to laugh.”
It’s just as well she can vouch for it, for Aron, though born in 1951, has scripted a character who is more like a 50s housewife than a woman who must have married in the 70s. It seems curiously old-fashioned to be so helplessly dependant on a husband to give life meaning. Even her name, Angela, calls to mind Virginia Woolf’s “angel in the house”. Fortunately she is not a total wall-to-wall carpet, but blessed with the ability for self-mockery, and it is this that makes My Brilliant Divorce both touching and very funny.
Middle-aged Angela has been dumped by her accountant husband for a younger and more exotic woman. Her daughter promptly flies the nest to live with her boyfriend, leaving her dog Axl behind. She assures her mother the split need not be a bad thing – the boyfriend, a drummer called Hot Sticks, has told her his parents’ divorce was “brilliant”. But Angela, like the protagonist of classic 70s novel The Women’s Room, is utterly bewildered by the collapse of her picture-perfect marriage.
For the next ninety minutes, Angela shares her desperate attempts to regain happiness. She battles against her unsympathetic lawyer (“Divorce usually results in a lower standard of living. You women don’t seem to get that”) and her trying mother (“She’d found a new hobby; reading out loud the signs she saw from the car”). She tries yoga, phone help-lines, and comically doomed attempts at dating, all with little chance of success.
While men are apparently the point of a woman’s life they do get a bit of a bashing. Some of the jokes at expense of blokes who, like Angela, are simply seeking love, are rather uncomfortable, especially those about the very short blind date. I shall charitably assume it was his internet misrepresentation Aron was ridiculing rather than his lack of inches.
The scene in the sex shop is predictable but amusingly interpreted and hugely enjoyed by the audience. My own favourite episode is Angela’s interview with her long-suffering doctor in which her hypochondria – reminiscent of Jerome K. Jerome’s in Three Men in a Boat – is hilariously explored.
Her helplessness could be infuriating. You want to shout: get off your butt, find a decent job, pursue a passion! That it is hard to despise her is due partly to the self-deprecating humour and largely to Elsa May’s engaging, deceptively natural performance.
The role is a huge undertaking for any actress but May is more than equal to it. She has the dizzy blonde sweetness of a younger Goldie Hawn, but with real sensitivity beneath. May endows Angela with a naïve vulnerability saved from being maudlin by a delightful streak of mischief.
It has been observed that this play is almost stand-up comedy and May’s experience in cabaret is evident. She is at her ease confiding in the audience, chatting apparently informally while employing little snatches of dance and mime, slipping smoothly into other characters.
May adopts foreign accents with an enthusiasm that robs them of offence, to show characters like Angela’s cleaner and her sister, who double as self-righteous spies in her ex’s household. She is especially entertaining as Angela’s annoyingly laid-back daughter.
Axl the dog is an ingenious remote-controlled device that whizzes around the stage, responding whimsically to Angela’s confidences. Director Lewis Ablett-Kerr has provided other neat supporting touches, most descending from above, like floating handkerchiefs, snow and gigantic shopping bags.
Ten more characters are indicated by recorded voices, including May’s own mother as Angela’s, and it works very well to use the young lighting and sound operators as the sex shop assistants, bellowing embarrassing questions from the rear of the theatre.
The set is simple: black curtains, a white window and a few chairs. May, wearing a lacy red tunic that has a little-girl look to it, prances lightly about the different areas that become everything from sex supermarket to gynaecologist’s exam room. The lighting is occasionally a bit harsh for the tone of the play but usually is enhancing, especially in the lovely dream sequence (ah for a man in an argyle sweater!), and the music is aptly chosen.
Lots of sympathetic laughter indicates this production will be popular. May’s fragile appeal ensures the audience feels protective and invested in Angela’s journey back to happiness.
If the constant chortles of recognition from my divorced friend are anything to go by, My Brilliant Divorce strikes a chord for any woman who has been through one, and for everyone else it is an engaging heart-to-heart with a friend who is far funnier and more entertaining than your real life ones in suffering mode.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer