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Review: Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica at the Ensemble

Review by Charlotte Leamon

Georgie Parker and Glenn Hazeldine reunite in David Williamson’s play Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica, after its premier thirteen years ago. The play sees classical violinist Monica and tradie/DJ Gary form a connection as they are forced to spend time with one another as Gary rebuilds her kitchen.

In true romantic-comedy tropes, the two soon to be lovers have their differences. Monica is a true fanatic for the greats such as Mahler and Bach, yet Gary loves Dolly Parton and specifically ‘Jolene’. Despite their constant irritancy of one another, they lust each other. A woman so seemingly uptight due to her RSI which forbids her to perform ever again, she loses herself in the comedic tradie.

Act 1 shows the audience into Monica’s neat apartment, which is soon disrupted with noise from Gary’s refurbishment. As the only relief is to listen to music, they bicker constantly about their tastes which unleashes into their personal lives. A flaw in Williamson’s writing is the toxic masculinity of Gary, who constantly lies to Monica in order to appear endearing to gain empathy. Whilst she discovers these lies, she brushes them off with a simple statement of, “Gary?!” This misogyny allows for the assumption that successful women can settle for less.

Act 2 shows Gary and Monica on a date, beginning to form their relationship but finding that staggering differences disrupt their connection. Somehow despite this, and despite the lies, they sleep together and book a flight to Fiji where they are soon engaged. The plot does not allow much room for creativity within sound design and lighting design. The constant scene changes and use of music within the play have strict guidelines for these elements of design which Wallis and Dalgleish created well. The integration of a radio was a nice touch, as it was used frequently used in order for Rhinestone Rex’s radio show to be heard. The costume design for Monica is elegant as she wore silk-like blouses and jeans, evidently suggesting she is a middle-aged woman shopping from Seed. Gary was costumed as you would expect, with cargo shorts and a flannel or checker patterned shirt at all times.

Both actors work well together, playing off one another smoothly. The chemistry is there as well as the stage presence. Both have had extensive careers on stage with Hazeldine working on STC stages for years, amongst others, and Parker appearing on TV as well, their experience shows. Parker sticks to her uptight character religiously, only letting loose when she’s a few wines deep. Whilst there are humorous moments, the same lines seem to be repeated which stab at Monica’s success. However, Williamson integrates moments of tenderness between them both as they open up about their struggles and past. This character development is pleasant to see, if it were only not to be revealed as a lie over and over again.

Image Supplied


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