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Coping
Review by Nikki Gaertner

Drawn from author Tony Moore’s life experiences, “Coping” is delivered as two solo plays, with separate storylines, but a common theme: life’s trials, tribulations, and how we get through them.

The first story, “No Privacy”, stars Joanna Webb as a homeless bag lady, whose unfortunate story begins with a failed marriage, which leads to a gambling addiction with the pokies eventually swallowing up her money and landing her on the street. How does one survive and deal with no family, no home, no food and most importantly, no privacy?

“Tom” focuses on a widow (Penni Hamilton-Smith) reliving the final years of her husband’s life, from when he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of fifty. How does one cope with a husband who is ever retreating into his own world, forgetting the one he shared with his family and who seems to become more and more of a stranger?

Exceptional performances are delivered by both Webb and Hamilton-Smith, and Moore’s script is spellbinding, and enhanced by the intimate setting of the Goodwood Institute foyer.

Make the time to see this show – it will be well worth your while.

Rating:
4½ out of 5

Cautionary tales

TONY Moore is an invaluable addition to the Adelaide playwriting community.

Anyone brave enough to tackle pokie addiction, homelessness, dementia and the women have to try and cope with it, deserves encouragement.

The first piece, No Privacy, is a showcase for the considerable acting talents of Joanna Webb.

She could do with a little more dirt and decrepit clothing, but Webb's agonising tale of marriage breakdown, creeping gambling addiction and the hidden pavement of poverty is quality theatre.

Whether anyone else would hold as little bitterness as her character in facing the coalface of life's ravages, is up for discussion but her ironic love for the man who abandoned her is a familiar tragic tale.

In the second piece, Tom, the redoubtable Penni Hamilton-Smith gradually reveals the love, pain and the whole damn guilt trip of coping with dementia.

When her husband Tom starts to go gently and ultimately angrily off the rails, this woman who has led a relatively blameless life finds herself having to accept a new person in her life.

The man she has planned to spend a blissful retirement with gradually disappears and she is forced to finally incarcerate him in a retirement home.

Hamilton-Smith takes us on an emotional ride that doesn't need the annoying blackouts, as she rationalises her changed situation but cannot forgive herself for retiring Tom.

These are two relevant, contemporary, cautionary tales for an ageing population and a government increasingly hooked on the profits of gambling.

Moore's dialogue may sometimes lack the steel for the topics he covers but both shows have compelling arguments, poignant moments, are well cast and directed.

See them and start learning how to cope now.

***1/2 MATT BYRNE

Coping

A new work in two parts, Coping, written and directed by Tony Moore shows how people cope with adversity and change. No Privacy, with Joanna Webb, introduces a woman who lost everything to gambling, whilst Tom introduces the widow of an Alzheimer’s disease sufferer, played by Penni Hamilton-Smith. Concise scripting, strong themes and powerful performances make this well worth a visit.

by Barry Lenny

Coping

These two guileless monologues by Tony Moore show how we are coping with the modern purgatory of a poker machine addiction and Alzheimer's. In No Privacy, bag lady Joanna Webb has a fluent acting style that makes for absorbing storytelling. In Tom, Penni Hamilton-Smith tells the story of her husband's slide into early-onset Alzheimer's. Again, the story is told well in a placid, stoic way. Tony Moore has close-reined the drama to ensure full impact from the simple truths of hard lives.

– Tim Lloyd

Rosencrantz & Guildensern are Dead

Review by Theresa Dolman

Stoppard’s classic centres around two of the minor characters in “Hamlet” and provides an absurdist view into the lives of duo Rosencrantz and Guildenstern during the full length of the Shakespearean script.

The story’s basic philosophy is that the pair has no recollection of their lives before they first appear in the script, biding their time in void until they are next acknowledged – all the while not knowing the purpose of their existence. Just how is it all going to end?

During their time in the nothingness, various comic exchanges take place.

Alan Holy and Ron Hughes both interacted and presented well as the title characters and carried the show nicely; particularly given their entire time was spent on stage with complex dialogue.

Natalie Playford also gave an enthusiastic performance as The Player.

Multimedia was used in conjunction with the stage performance, being especially clever when the characters seamlessly walked in and out of the projected films. The sound could have used a bit more volume and clarity however, as it was difficult to hear and understand the screen action most of the time.

This is definitely one for fans of the classics and plays until March 18.

Rating:
4½ out of 5

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

This production of the much lauded Tom Stoppard masterpiece is cleverly directed and expertly performed by the three leads.

The absurdist play, presented as part of the Lightning Strike Inc & Spotlight Theatre Company's Fringe productions, tells the tale of Shakespeare's Hamlet through the extraordinary activities of two minor characters – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

The production makes clever use of film sequences (shot at Carrick Hill) in which the actors on screen interact with the characters on stage.

Apart from some difficulty with sound quality, the technique is well done, with some brilliance when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern appear to jump from stage into the film and back again. Very enjoyable.

– Nathan Cross


 

Rosencrantz & Guildernstern Are Dead

Taking Shakespeare’s Hamlet a stage further, Tom Stoppard’s absurdist play finds us looking at the two spies as they seek, through constant questioning, to discern their raison d’être. Alan Holy and Ron Hughes take the title roles in superb performances and, with a strong supporting cast including Natalie Playford, Damien White, Shannon Gray, Keith Manson and Joff Sander, directed by Maris Caune, create an engaging piece of theatre.

by Barry Lenny

Shakespeare's buffoons

TOM Stoppard's play is about a couple of very minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet who spend a lot of time aimlessly waiting around for their next tiny moment in the Shakespearean action.

This is a clever but very static and talky play that requires actors of great professionalism and comic talent to bring it fully to life and make all of its jokes comprehensible.

Alan Holy as Rosencrantz and Ron Hughes as Guildenstern do their best, trying bravely to keep the play lively and witty, and it's good to see director Maris J. Caune's imaginative use of video footage breaking up the talk and livening up the stage from time to time.

Although the two main characters are men, the two best performances in the play are by women. There's a good solid comic turn by Natalie Playford, while the very young Shannon Gray is a natural actor, an instinctive comic, and a real find.

*** KERRYN GOLDSWORTHY

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