Review: Dinkum Assorted (New Theatre)

newtheatreVenue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Nov 17 – Dec 19, 2015
Playwright: Linda Aronson
Director: Sahn Millington
Cast: Debra Bryan, Melissa Burgess, Colleen Cook, Emily Crotti, Bodelle De Ronde, Alison Eaton, Sonya Kerr, Denise Kitching, Gemma Laffan, Amanda Laing, Cassady Maddox, Lois Marsh, Patricia McLoughlin, Hannah Raven Smith, Alizon Vosburgh
Photography © Bob Seary

Theatre review
It is wartime 1942, and the fictional Australian country town of Warrabadanga is left with only its womenfolk to fend for themselves. They find plenty to keep busy with, and thankfully, spend little time worrying about the ones who have gone to battle. They are a spectacularly confident group determined to make the most of their situation, and go about their business in fine form. Linda Aronson’s Dinkum Assorted is an idealistic portrait of our country women. Dynamic, fun-loving , resourceful and optimistic, their strengths encompass the best of humanity, and represent an excellent example of how communities should view themselves.

Although written in the late 1980’s, the script is a predictably old fashioned one that feels faithful to language and presentational styles of the time it depicts. It is nostalgic and quaint, with a sense of humour that would appeal to those who have a taste for more traditional types of theatre. Direction by Sahn Millington brings out the vibrant spirit of all its characters, but the show struggles to captivate. The players are raucous but rarely meaningful, unable to deliver nuance or authenticity to help us locate points of identification or emotional involvement.

There are however, smaller scenes that feature pairings of actors that work well to offer glimpses of poignancy. Amanda Laing and Hannah Raven play wannabe showgirls, whose friendship is portrayed with good chemistry, along with a purity that resonates endearingly. Bodelle de Ronde and Debra Bryan create memorable characters who connect in a scene about being outsiders, both thoughtful and sensitive in their approaches.

It is in hardship that the best in humanity shines through. War takes on a different form in the twenty-first century, but we must only face it with that same bravery and positive outlook. The women in Dinkum Assorted are undefeated because they are engrossed in life, and they shun thoughts of demise. They are constructive in their own town, while the ravages of destruction take hold overseas. It is this simple lesson that our real lives need today. The purpose of war is destruction, and we must respond with the most vibrant and spirited ways of living out our each and every day.

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