Review by Meredith Fuller Psychologist, Author, Playwright
Another winner from Q44 Theatre, directed by Artistic Director & Founder of Q44 Theatre Company Gabriella Rose-Carter,
May 9 – 26
Bradley – Kostas Ilias
Brenda – Xanthe Gunner
Collette – Tania Knight
Victor – William Atkinson
Q44 models consistent production excellence; meticulous direction; entertains and educates; and showcases emergent talent alongside strong, well known actors. You’re never disappointed as an audience.
“Brenda wants to be a star, she even chants for it! Collette, the other actress in the film, is in her way, so Brenda must convince Bradley, the producer, to cut Collette’s part. Bradley, knowing full well that the film is seriously over budget, intimates that he will do it, if she can convince her stepbrother, a giant movie star, to make a cameo in the film. Collette has her own agenda: She knows she’s not as young as she once was. She tries to convince Victor, the writer, to alter the film so she can be the heroine. Victor, a naïve young writer from Off-Off Broadway, doesn’t know how to handle any of this, and his mother just died.”
As well as theatre going public, I highly recommend this play to actors who will clearly gain tools around understanding and delivering their lines perfectly; surrender to their director; and appreciate that less is more in archetypal portrayal. Humour is provided by the truth about working in ‘Hollywood’ and how we can all recognize these egocentric people.
The opening tableaux was a stark series of stylized poses that conveyed volumes about the four characters and storyline, cleverly warming us up to this funny play by the writer of ‘Doubt’ and ‘Moonstruck’ about the precarious world of film making and acting. Gabriella Rose-Carter stripped everything back to ensure that her actors could reveal subtle archetypes while honouring a clever script about self-interest and desire to be top dog.
Speaking of dogs, there was a hilarious moment for my filmmaker partner and me when Collette believed that Brenda was chanting, “Uncle Remus”, while her mantra to manifest her future was really, “I am famous”. Our former Rottweiler was Remus, and we used to summon him by calling, ‘Uncle Remus’ several times.
Her impeccable direction meant that each and every movement was significant. Actor stillness encouraged us to attend to the words. Each actor carefully began using a part of their body to reveal their tension; Brenda used her hand, and Collette her foot. Other juxtapositions included Bradley’s vocal flabbiness and Victor’s tautness; Bradley’s boil and Victor’s carotid artery. Lies emanated from Brenda’s lovely red lips and truth leaked from Collette’s eyes. In one scene, Collette took her makeup off while Brenda put hers on, attuned to their lines and likely career trajectories.
Tania Knight is outstanding as the blowsy Collette clinging onto her fading youth. We believe her throughout the play in her layered performance. A fine actor, she’s hilarious, sassy, poignant, and fascinating to watch.
Xanthe Gunner as Brenda is particularly potent in her first few scenes, showing promise as she develops into a seasoned actor. Her tales when she explained that she was, “incested” were dexterously delivered.
Plainspeaking, wise cracking producer, Bradley, is well played by Kostas Ilias. He has captured the nonchalant, amusing jadedness. Having seen Kostas in 2015, I was most impressed with his growth as an actor.
The four actors maintained great accents, changed sets seamlessly, and held comedic timing. They worked so well together and their costumes were great.
Thoroughly enjoyed this charming play that took us behind the scenes, and beneath people’s masks.
You only have next week to see it, don’t miss out. The Convent at Abbotsford is a lovely, intimate venue. Groups of 4 or more pay only $30 per ticket, so organise your group. Individual Tickets only $ 35 now.
A comedy about Hollywood. FOUR DOGS AND A BONE, by John Patrick Shanley (Doubt, Moonstruck)