Monday, June 30, 2014

MANAGING CARMEN



Written by David Williamson
Directed by Denis Moore
Produced by Christine Harris & HIT Productions
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan
June 24 – 28, 2014

Review by Len Power 24 June 2014

David Williamson gives us yet another entertaining and thought-provoking play with ‘Managing Carmen’.  A psychologist employed to help a young Melbourne football star overcome his shyness with the media ascertains the star’s dark secret.  He likes to cross-dress and not just privately.  He wants to go out dressed as a woman occasionally.  This news horrifies his manager who is concerned at the potential loss of income to the football club if this secret gets out and there’s already an aggressive journalist stalking the player for a good, negative story.

Played on an attractively simple living room set designed by Shaun Gurton, the lighting plot by Jason Bovaird cleverly suggests other locations as the plot moves through a number of short scenes.  Director, Denis Moore, wisely keeps the pace moving swiftly until the momentum carries us to an enjoyably farcical ending.

The director and his strong cast capture every nuance of the interesting characters and make every laugh count.  There were great performances from Brandon Burke as the harried club manager, Hannah Norris as the psychologist and Annie Last as the worldly-wise girlfriend, Clara.  They were matched every step of the way by Jamieson Caldwell in the difficult role of the cross-dressing football player and Trent Baker as the sleazy journalist.

The plot works well as a comedy bordering on farce but I found myself questioning whether a star footballer would really risk a lucrative career just to have a potentially dangerous night out in a dress and, if he was straight, as he states early in the play, why did he want to go out and flirt with men in bars?  Anyway, it’s just a comedy with a serious plea for tolerance under the surface and should be enjoyed just for what it is.

It’s been very interesting catching up with the new David Williamson plays over the past few years.  He seems to be on a roll with clever story ideas peopled with strongly recognizable Australian characters.  Good production values and excellent casting seem to be a signature of Christine Harris & HIT Productions shows and I recommend this one and suggest you keep an eye out for more shows from this company in the future.

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ showbiz program with Bill Stephens on Sunday 29 June 2014 from 5pm.

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