30 September 2006

Something Drastic

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2006
Something Drastic

29 September 2006
Festival Hub, Errol’s Cafe


Something Drastic is one of those gems that get uncovered in the Fringe. Bridget Jones meets The Odd Couple, filled with delicious one-liners and loving satire of feminism, literature, contemporary theatre and theatre restaurants. And the best Bell Jar joke ever.
Director Rosemary Johns discovered Colleen Curran’s work at the International Women’s Playwright’s conference in Athens. It has been produced twice in Canada and adapted by Johns for its Australian premiere. Curran was at opening night and loved this production.

Something Drastic is the story of “stupid in love” Lenore (Delene Butland) her stupid “not in love” neighbour Heidi (Nik Willmott). One works at a theatre restaurant. One is a university academic. Both are at significant crossroads in their lives and their unlikely friendship develops over a year. These are original and appealing characters. Their behaviour is predictable, but they still surprise us.

They are supported by the five members of the “as cast”, who play an assortment of characters. Each are well drawn caricatures that make us laugh, but never distract from Lenore and Heidi’s journey. Some are more original than others, with the Sylvia Plath academics and the friends of Dorothy couple - Judy and her partner Judy – as the standouts.

The “as cast” also act as a surreal postmodern chorus. Their first appearances as clutter and bookshelves are confusing, but once the convention is established, their interpretations of a radio, a pile of bills, chooks, a bed and, never to be forgotten – a poem – are totally fitting.

Fringe venues are often inappropriate and makeshift. Something Drastic is in a function room above a noisy restaurant. This is ironically perfect. The room was originally designed as a flat, and the show is set in the existing kitchen. It could not have been designed better.

Something Drastic is another script that knows who it is talking to, but appeals widely. It is similar in theme to The Female of the Species (currently at the MTC), but more successful, because we are laughing with the feminists, not at them.

 This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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