In his notes to the audience writer and creator Reg Livermore describes Turns as a 'broad reflection on show business, matters of identity, of family, a show filled with fun and games, elements of mystery, slapstick, film noir, music-hall, vaudeville, cabaret and pantomime.' One element that Livermore failed to mention was the theatre of the absurd. This mish mash of elements combine to ultimately leave the audience wondering...what is the point? The story has merit and touches on subject matter that will hit us at some point in our life, the care that a son has for his mother in her later years of life. The emotional range in Turns is so limited, however, that we are left never really feeling anything.
The One Act 90 minute show is a two hander starring Nancye Hayes as Marjorie Joy Moncrieff, a ninety-five year old former entertainer, while Livermore plays her long suffering son Alistar. Each character takes their 'Turn' in the piece, with Marjorie's life explored by Hayes in the first fifty minutes of the show. Herein lies the major problem. While Hayes' expertise is evident from the outset, fifty minutes is far too long and by the end of it we feel relieved for a set change rather than informed or inspired by a performance. The material is so scattered that while there are entertaining moments we are overwhelming left feeling confused by the time Hayes departs the stage. Not from her performance but by the material she has to work with. Albinoni's Adagio accompanies some of the action during this first turn and as a traditional funeral march, the music (in parts) mirrors the show's pace.
The final part of the play comes to us in the form of a forty minute 'turn' from Livermore. In this monologue we discover the truth about Marjorie's life and the La Cage Aux Folles style secret that Alistar is living. Livermore's acting performance is first class and is clearly connected to his own writing and delivers a performance accordingly. While Livermore is connected, unfortunately this does not translate to the audience, leaving me wondering whether this piece was founded as a vehicle for performance rather than for audience.
Production values are strong with set design by James Browne effective and impactful, MatthewAberline's Costume design particularly garish and Trudy Daglish delivering a complimentary lighting design. It is perhaps Accompanist Vincent Colagiuri who almost steals the show with his endearing persona. He accompanies Turns both musically and as an onstage presence subtly and sensitively.
Ultimately Turns is a medium for Hayes and Livermore to express their skill and explore their own careers and lives. However, it leaves us unfulfilled and Livermore's Alistar eloquently summed up the night saying that 'remembering makes me tired, I just want to forget.' Touche Alistar...Touche
Turns is playing at the Victorian Arts Centre until July 9 Before heading to Queensland and Western Australia
WICKED vs. THE BOOK OF MORMON for Best Revival of a Play and More...
Past Articles by This Author:
Tim Carney graduated from Lasalle College of the Arts Singapore with a
Bachelor of Arts in Musical theatre. Tim relocated to London
performing in the international cast of Mamma Mia! understudying Harry
Bright. Since finishing the show Tim filmed the European TV campaign
for Fosters Nreweries and performed as a vocalist on the Best of
Musicals European Tour.
More Articles by This Author...