‘Heartfelt Theatre’ touches the audience

Share Canberra's trusted news:

IN a time when slick professionalism is the name of the game it’s worth remembering that at its base, theatre is about human beings.

Robbie Matthews and Adele Lewin in 'Darling I'm Sorry'
Robbie Matthews and Adele Lewin in ‘Darling I’m Sorry’

In “Couples Don’t Talk,” Canberra playwright and social worker Judith Peterson has teamed up with Bathurst writer Vince Melton with the view to writing a thought-provoking set of vignettes about relationships, showing how each is thwarted by the failure to communicate fully.

With a percentage of ticket sales going to support the work of the organisation Menslink, there is a visible theme throughout the five plays of men being especially bad at communicating.

In contrast, the final play, written by Peterson herself, “The Chocolate Game,” is a joyous celebration of what happens when women get together behind closed doors with a few boxes of chocolates and even more bottles of wine to talk about life and love.

Fiona Robertson, Michelle Priest, Cerri Murphy, Judith Peterson and Sarah McKinnon in 'The Chocolate Game'
Fiona Robertson, Michelle Priest, Cerri Murphy, Judith Peterson and Sarah McKinnon in ‘The Chocolate Game’

Directed by veteran Canberra theatre personality and owner of Smith’s, Domenic Mico, this enjoyable program, the sequel to an earlier show written by Melton, “Blokes Don’t Talk,” presented theatre close-up and personal, almost confrontingly so at times, as you see everything writ large in the small confines of Smith’s.

As well, Mico and the cast, for which he held public auditions, plainly chose to go the way of performing the little playlets in intimate naturalistic detail, with every word and every nuance reacted to full-on, in super-obvious facial and hand gestures. Indeed, at times I wished the decision had been to throw away lines, not to give us everything so close-up and personal.

Having said that, the “don’t talk” format is an effective way of giving us different slants on humanity’s failure to communicate, presented to a willing audience with heartfelt sincerity. It was plain that the theme and the specific instances in each play struck home to a mature-age audience.

While the three plays written by Peterson, “Regrets,” “A Moment,” and “The Chocolate Game,” all carried a touch of hopeful optimism that our personal relationships might bring happiness, Melton’s plays, “You are so Beautiful” and “Darling, I’m Sorry,” showed a slightly more sophisticated approach to the short play form, with sharply delineated male and female characters and a deft twist at the end of each. Having said that, Peterson certainly knows how to bring her characters to life and has a serious interest in pursuing questions of how we relate to each other that should bear fruit in the future.

At the end of the show, the producers joked that, having done blokes and couples, they might have to turn to the subject, “Children Don’t Talk.”

If they do – and it should be noted that they haven’t yet done “girls don’t talk” (for let us not kid ourselves that all that talk means genuine communication) – you can fairly bet that this phenomenon, which I like to call “Heartfelt Theatre” will continue to attract interest from audiences.

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep citynews.com.au free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleHarrison’s horsemen win ‘Sculpture in the Paddock’ prize
Next articleMissing: Police search for mother and son
Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

Leave a Reply