Review: The Plot (Mantouridion Theatre)

theplot1Venue: Mantouridion Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Feb 13 – Mar 1, 2015
Playwright: Evdokia Katahanas
Director: Sophie Kelly
Cast: Dina Panozzo, Deborah Galanos, Dina Gillespie, Maggie Blinco, Jennifer White, Julie Hudspeth, Matt Charleston, Nicholas Papademetriou, Michael Kotsohilis
Image by Mark Micaleff Photography

Theatre review
Stories about the underdog hold an everlasting appeal. We identify with the struggles of a person facing odds that are almost too much to endure, and the dramatic tensions that can be derived from those circumstances are unmistakable. Evdokia Katahanas’ The Plot talks about a social worker’s fight against the powers that be, at an aged care facility. Lily is an intimate confidante of the people she cares for, but their best interest are not always a priority for the directors, who are more concerned with keeping up appearances and a pleasing bottom line. Katahanas’ script includes elements that entertain and amuse, as well as characters that are colourfully diverse, but the structure of her writing prevents a comfortable rhythm from taking hold. Scenes of realism are interrupted by monologues, creating a plot that although rich in variety, can tend toward feeling fractured and uneven.

The production is performed by an accomplished and confident cast, led by the eminently energetic Dina Panozzo. In the role of Lily, Panozzo is full of empathy and passion, and she puts us firmly on her side from her very first appearance. Her warm presence connects with audience and co-actors, and her valiant and generous approach gives the production a sense of enthusiastic benevolence. The performance space is a large hall, and director Sophie Kelly addresses that daunting vastness effectively. She prevents any hint of dull stasis from occurring by encouraging movement and introducing sonic dimensions that fill the room beautifully. Composer Stephen Rae and sound designer Daniel Natoli both contribute strong work to the production. Kelly’s penchant for drawing out quite extravagant styles of acting ensures that the show remains entertaining for its duration.

How we treat the elderly can often be disgraceful. All our lives owe a debt to generations before, and when our seniors are no longer able to fend for themselves, it is completely reprehensible when they suffer mistreatment and abuse. The Plot shows that there are many admirable people devoted to providing care for those who are in need, but their honourable motives can be impeded by bureaucracy and the ineptitude of those in more powerful positions. Lily’s fight is a good one, even if every battle cannot be won.