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Pygmalion

Busy as I am, I took the last chance I would have to see Canberra Repertory’s Pygmalion, and I am glad I did. Living up to their excellent reputation, Rep presented a thoughtful and challenging piece of theatre.

Often, a great set and spectacular costumes simply make the performers look dull, as happened with Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady, but not so in this case. A beautifully modern set, clearly a product of 21st century mentality, served as a symbolic gesture to this early 20th century story, complementing the costumes beautifully; and the cast earned every part of it.
As always, accents are a problem with this story. Accents are a difficult thing in theatre, and Shaw does no one any favours by writing a play that is absolutely centred on accent. Jessica Brent’s Lisson Grove dialect was acceptable, and her recieved pronunciation was appropriately awkward. Other characters, however, had no excuse for sounding stilted. The production, nonetheless, survives its slowness, the pathos of Shaw’s characters shining through in the second act just as it should, and the awkwardness of Shaw’s ending was deftly handled.
I really liked this production. Maybe I was just relieved that the cast had taken the time to understand the characters, unlike the cast of My Fair Lady. It was slow, but didn’t drag. It was awkward, but even that was appropriate. In all, a great show.
 
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Posted by on Saturday, 4 October 2008 in Canberra Repertory Society, Canberra Theatre, Theatre

 

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The Role Model

I was interested to see The Role Model not only because it was written by a fellow Canberran, but also because of the praise it had received from the great Edward Albee. It is usually a mistake to assume that you will enjoy something as much as you expect to when it gets such accolades. Who can live up to such expectations? The Role Model certainly didn’t.

That’s not to say it’s not a worthy production; it is a great story, deftly performed by a cohesive and talented cast. It’s just that the script didn’t deserve the praise I heard. Much of the dialogue is awkward, and it doesn’t help that the lead actor, Raoul Craemer, attempts to portray an elite Australian athlete without attempting an Australian accent. Don’t get me wrong, there were some fine and genuinely funny moments, but this talented cast were let down by often unconvincing dialogue, and a director who allowed them to pronounce every ‘T’ in the script, which lent the already awkward dialogue a foreign and unfamiliar tone, which is not conducive to comedic impact.

Overall, an entertaining show, but this story had the potential to move me to both laughter and tears, and it didn’t do either.

 

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