Review By Maree Paliouras
Portraying an element of darkness in any piece of performance art is never an easy feat, let alone one so humorous. Finding that balance between the themes presented with the style of the performance and the general subject matter is a difficult task that takes an unexplainable amount of patience and skill on behalf of everybody involved. It is a task that the cast and crew of Marvellous accomplished with an extraordinary amount of success.
The show had me in its clutches from the second that I entered the theatre and my eyes came across the set. While minimal, several items are suspended from ropes that have been expertly hung from the rig. It had instantly gripped my attention, my brain immediately coming up with questions and possible solutions as to how they would be utilized.
This was a grip that refused to loosen for the remainder of the show. At its very core, the performance portrays the lives of two nonagenarian women and their respective daughters, who are also rather advanced in years. It discusses the everyday happenings of the characters but also explores things such as loss of bodily functions, death, and the impacts of Covid-19 through a comedic lens, resulting in the creation of a genuinely brilliant piece of theatre.
All roles are performed by Hester Joyce and Meredith Rogers, who switch between the roles of the Mothers and Daughters. The two work incredibly together, an amazing duo who each bring their individual talents to the production but collaborate perfectly. With impeccable characterisation and genuine skill, they deserve to be commended for their performance.
Another major aspect of what ties the show together is Madeleine Flynn’s sound design. Much of the action us accompanied with a soundtrack that truly that accurately encompasses the mood and feeling conveyed in the scene. It serves as the final touch on creating the atmosphere being presented. Furthermore, Gina Gascoigne’s design ensures that lighting is also used effectively, with minimal major changes but colours that help set the mood of each scene.
In addition, like all shows, so much is owed to the particularly noteworthy crew of Marvellous. The aforementioned ropes were maneuvered flawlessly by the show’s brilliant Stage Manager, who’s work really only went unnoticed during the performance due to the fact that it was done with such expertise.
The show is a genuinely insightful portrayal of the elderly, the struggles that they face, family relationship dynamics, among so many other topics. As somebody who is still young, enough so that I have never had the task of caring for an elderly person, this play presented me with things to consider and reflect upon that had never quite crossed my mind before. I’d never thought too hard about what it could be like in the future, for myself or those around me. It helped me see things through a new light, to consider the future and recognise further how lucky that I was to not have experienced things during the pandemic as terrible as others. The experience of seeing Marvellous allowed me to gain empathy even further and I am eternally grateful for it.
All in all, it is an extremely well thought out and presented show that causes the viewer to truly think deeply and reflect. Audiences of all ages and experiences will benefit from themes of which this play presents alongside the general
This incredible and thought-provoking performance is being presented at one of Melbourne’s most inviting and architecturally beautiful theatres, La Mama, until February 28th.