Review: (Extra)ordinary, (Un)usual Episode III (The Monologue Project)

themonologueprojectVenue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), May 13 – 27, 2015
Playwright: Pete Malicki
Director: Pete Malicki
Cast: Debbie Neilson, Glenn Wanstall, Luke Reeves, Matt Friedman, Raechel Carlsen, Rosemary Ghazi, Tiffany Hoy, Yannick Lawry, Miss Suzie Q

Theatre review
The production comprises eight monologues, all written and directed by Pete Malicki. His writing is mainly concerned with the ordinariness of Australian lives, but he delves into fantastical inventions on occasion, to create stories that aim to entertain and amuse. Malicki finds the small and mundane parts of existence and places them in the spotlight. His characters all seem neurotic, as their solitude allows them to reveal their deepest idiosyncrasies. The programme is a light-hearted one, with little room for gloom or poignancy, but it does offer social observations through sarcastic jabs and slapstick comedy.

Malicki’s direction is not particularly versatile, but he ensures that each segment is energetic and vibrantly quirky. He has a knack for extracting confident and quite wild performances from his cast, all of whom appear to bubble with excitement when placed centre stage. Glenn Wanstall’s performance in That Time Harold Borgenstein Went Speed Dating And Got Taken Over By All Of The Greek Gods, is impressively athletic and irresistibly funny. The actor’s intuition is remarkably precise, and the level of conviction he displays is entirely captivating. The piece is somewhat pointless, but it serves as a secure platform for Wanstall to present some of the most outrageous and flamboyant spectacles one is likely to encounter.

Artists often need boundaries to instigate the creative flow, and in Malicki’s case, the short monologue format is a framework that he is clearly very comfortable in. His ability to find tension and humour within his preferred structure is well-honed, but like the faces in his cast, greater diversity is required. Presenting eight works together is an appealing idea, and as much as it is a showcase of one’s strengths, it is able also to unwittingly expose one’s weaknesses. Malicki may not speak universally, but he is certainly an expert in his chosen field.