Review By Kathryn Green
On an appropriately wet evening in Sydney, entering the Belvoir was a sigh of relief from the conditions outside. An eager audience also created an initial buzz when entering the iconic Upstairs Theatre of the Belvoir, Surry Hills.
From the moment the play started, I could see that the actors were going to give the audience everything and more. The play itself is quite jaded and haphazard, but as the play goes on, the audience is given opportunities to understand the contexts more, and eventually everything makes sense. Plays of this nature can often feel dragged out, which at points, this show did, however the audience is truly satisfied by the final few scenes. The director Carissa Licciardello has taken a potentially confusing script and created elements of surprise and beauty instead. Licciardello has truly given her actors a strong foundation to work with in her adaptation of this script, and it shows in the strength of their performances and relationships on stage.
Leeanna Walsman as Myrtle/Virginia is incredible, rbis jaded and complex character is rendered incredibly relatable in Waksman’s performance. Moments of the play had me screaming in my brain “You’re an actor Myrtle, just do the damn the thing!” But the summation of the play makes this part of the journey, make sense and satisfies the audience. Walsman delivers a captivating and well rounded performance, with what can be at times, a slow running script. She has an undeniable presence on stage and commands attention, which suits this character perfectly.
Anthony Harkins as Marty gave me dad vibes, in a good way. He held his own against his costars with ease and presented a strong and understood performance of his frustrated actor character Marty. The chemistry between Marty and Myrtle is complicated, but sprinkled throughout the play with ease and these actors find their moments to show us how important this connection is.
Luke Mullins as Manny, the director, is a stand out, he has a natural and panicked persona which created the real backbone of this show, in many ways Manny drives the plot and steers the audience in the direction of understanding Myrtle more, which Mullins does with ease and charm.
Toni Scanlan as Sarah, the author of the play, is that bitchy artist we all know and love, she’s a purist and knows exactly what she wants, and so does Scanlan. Another important glue within this complicated show, Scanlan gives a delicate yet stern performance which turns the audience against Myrtle in ways, which I think we needed.
Jing-Xuan Chan as Kelly the costume designer, is a charming addition to this cast, and brings a much needed light and solid ground within this show. Caitlin Burley as Nancy and Myrtles delusion gives a youthful spark to this play, however at times felt a little awkward in their performance, and seemingly too young for the role as written, although did bring an interesting element to this piece.
Overall, this show is one to see, absolutely. The tech elements are stunning, utilising multi sensory effects that create a real existential breakdown, even elements of thrill and suspense which is often hard to create in theatre. This play captures the reality of celebrity, ageism and human expectation.