Friday, 6 August 2010

Gwen in Purgatory @ Belvoir Theatre

On Wednesday night I went to see Gwen in Purgatory at the Belvoir Theatre in Surry Hills.

The play bills itself as a comedy, and there are definitely laugh out load moments, but has a more serious side too; depicting tensions within the family around the care of an elderly grandmother who is beginning to get confused by life.

The play is very predictable on some levels. The humour is obvious; the phone stops ringing just as you go to pick it up. And all the characters are stereotypes. You have a tear-away grandson, slightly sleazy know-it-all uncle, an aunt the rest of the family take for granted and a sweet old grandmother. Thrown into the mix is a Nigerian priest who you wouldn't normally expect to find in suburbian Australia, however, even this character plays up to type.

What makes the play work (very well) is the remarkably good acting, led by Melissa Jaffer who plays the grandmother of the family. Also the fact that the audience will be able to relate to one or more of the characters in the show. It was amazing to overhear conversations of people at the end saying "My uncle Tony is just like that" or "that character was just like my sister". I definitely saw some elements of my family in the play and even if you don't, the obvious stereotypes mean you can connect.

I was surprised to find out that the play was written especially for the Belvoir Theatre. It was so polished that I assumed they had adapted an established script. Overall a great night out and I'd recommend you go along.


The Belvoir Theatre has created a couple of videos about the performance:
A interview with the cast, director and writer, which you have to watch even if it is just for the first five seconds. And a time lapse video of the creation of the set.

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