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Theatre – The Black Swan State Theatre Company Presents “Managing Carmen” by David Williamson, November 2012

| 29 November 2012 | Reply

The Heath Ledger Theatre, Perth, Western Australia
By Dani DeVille

Managing Carmen is the latest instalment in the prolific career of acclaimed Queensland-based playwright David Williamson.

The play follows the story of Brent (Tim Dashwood), an exceptionally talented AFL player in one of Australia’s most successful football teams.  On the face of it, Brent is winning at life. At the age of 23, this shy, handsome, country boy, has a couple of Brownlow medals to his name, a great career, a beautiful city apartment and a suitably stunning girlfriend, Clara (Anna McGahan).

But not all that glitters is a sequined D&G dress. After missing a lucrative opportunity to appear in a television commercial due to his on-screen ineptitude, money-hungry manager, Rohan (John Batchelor), hires Brent a specialist coach, Jessica (Clare Lovering), to unlock his hidden acting potential. As Jessica unweaves the off-the-shoulder, cable-knit jumper that is Brent’s private life, she discovers that his utter lack of acting talent is the least of Rohan’s worries: Behind closed doors, Brent is a cross-dresser.

When Brent’s urge to hit the town as his cross-dressing alter-ego, Carmen Getmee, becomes irrepressible, sleazy sports journalist Max (Greg McNeill) smells a saucy scoop and sets out to destroy Brent’s already shaky public image. It’s a matter of sink or spin as Rohan, Jessica and Brent work together to manage the impending break of this scandalous story.

Williamson’s script alternates seamlessly between frequent laugh-out-loud light heartedness and intensely intimate, emotional moments, particularly between Brent and Jessica. It is a tale of tolerance and celebrity, with a couple of not-so-subtle digs at the Australian media.

Accompanied by a fresh musical backdrop of this year’s pop hits, director Wesley Enoch creates the perfect setting for this present-day tale. With a cleverly designed revolving stage, Enoch and set designer Richard Roberts have constructed a dynamic space in which the events unfold. As the stage revolves and the music pulses, we catch glimpses of what other characters are up to between scenes, an ingenious way of showing the passage of time. The use of mixed media with video footage displayed on large screens around the stage during the course of the performance adds to the contemporary feel of the play. The décor and costumes coupled with the distinctive leitmotif of iPhone ringtones exude urban chic.

The fact that Dashwood delivers such a believable and sincere performance as Brent is rendered doubly impressive by his ability to effortlessly skip around a moving platform, wearing heels which would cripple many a woman, while delivering his lines flawlessly.  McGahan is hilarious as bobble-headed Clara and Batchelor seems altogether too comfortable as loud-mouthed Rohan.

This collaboration between the Queensland Theatre Company and the Black Swan State Theatre Company was received by a delighted audience applauding and laughing in unison. The unmistakably Australian comedy is uncompromisingly unpretentious, frequently funny and constantly charming.

Managing Carmen will be running at the Heath Ledger Theatre in Northbridge until this Sunday, 2nd December 2012 with a special free live broadcast on Friday 30th November to the Perth Cultural Centre as well as ten regional towns around WA.

Category: Other Reviews

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