Review by Benjamin Lamb
It’s hard to try and sum up the talent of Mary Coustas in an opening paragraph, her career has seen wear so many different hats, perform on stages across the country, and provide generations with countless laughs.
Tonight’s Mary was a new one – we’ve been accustomed to seeing her as her popular Effie character, but tonight we got to see the woman behind the wig. Shaped as a one woman show that shows us Coustas’ journey, everything she’s learned along the way, and the wisdom she hopes to impart on her daughter.
Death, Culture, Sickness and Motherhood can be topics that, if treated poorly, can be found offensive, but Coustas expertly mined each of those topics for the humour, and the real and teachable moments. Her ability to tell a story and make us laugh, tear up and think is phenomenal, she’s one of a kind.
Starting off telling us about her daughter, and all the questions she has, the next 70 minutes shaping lessons she hopes she can pass on.
While a fair chunk of the show making the crowd erupt in laughter, there were moments that took a serious turn, featuring audible sniffles, gasps and even silence from the crowd.
One of those moments came with a story about her mother, who after a sad family event, was inconsolable, and had a dream that changed the course of her life, and she started living for tomorrow rather than yesterday. In that moment, this reviewer realised that this show isn’t just for Effie fans or Mary Coustas fans, everyone can get something out of This is Personal.
But Effie fans will also enjoy this show, with many references to her hit character, and a story about how the lovable Greek came to be. This was introduced with a story about telling her parents that she wanted to be an actress, and re-created one of her first avant-garde performances at her theatre school, which gave Coustas the opportunity to showcase her physical comedic abilities as well.
She managed to use the Arts Centre’ Playhouse stage perfectly as well, the stage only featuring a desk with a phone, which were used for further exposition in certain moments, and to hit a particular emotion whenever a story was told, showing us all her abilities as an actress.
Without spoiling the interesting stories she shared with the packed crowd, there was stories about her extended family, interesting characters she’s met, friends, having children, and much more.
As we all walked out of the Playhouse in the Arts Centre, there was the echoes of ‘that was amazing’, ‘she was hilarious’, and we all started living for tomorrow.
This is a definitely a must see show, no matter whether you’re old or young, man, woman or non-binary, each and every person can find at least one thing to get out of this show, and will enjoy being immersed in the world of Mary Coustas for an hour.