30 October 2006

The Debutante Diaries

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2006
The Debutante Diaries
Kate McLennan
7 October 2006
The Festival Hub, The Raglan

Review by Christina Cass



Kate McLennan (The Wrong Night and Let Loose Live) had me absolutely howling with laughter during her new show, The Debutante Diaries, now playing at The Raglan in the Fringe Festival Hub until 3 October.

Directed by Fiona Harris (SkitHOUSE and Flipside) and written and performed by McLennan herself, I laughed; I cried (really, I really cried) but was mostly astounded by McLennan’s seamless work depicting the trials and tribulations of preparing for that classic teenage right of passage – The Debutante Ball.

McLennan morphs between eight different characters and with aid of only a prop or two. She completely embodies the bitchy “mean girl”, the perpetually perky socialite, her jock boyfriend and the lecherous perv teacher/organizer of the Ball. They’re great fun to laugh at and make fun of, because we all know these people – we dealt with them in high school and we’re probably still dealing with them today. That’s one of the reasons her writing is so successful – it smacks of truth – and when we witness her most poignant character, Sophie, negotiating the confusing maze of preparation to her “fairytale night” it can break our heart.

Harris’ direction is for the most part spot-on. Less is more in a one-woman show and although McLennan is a master at transformation, she would be greatly aided by better technical transitions. Perhaps by watching a recording one of Lily Tomlin’s classic one-woman shows, one can see how sound and light can truly act as a buffer between characters and help the actor propel the story forward rather than continually stop-starting.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com

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