Review: Unqualified (Ensemble Theatre)

Venue: Ensemble Theatre (Kirribilli NSW), Jun 22 РJul 21, 2018
Playwrights: Genevieve Hegney, Catherine Moore
Director: Janine Watson
Cast: Genevieve Hegney, Catherine Moore
Images by Phil Erbacher

Theatre review
Centrelink offices are not generally considered places of serendipity, but when Felicity and Joanne meet, an unlikely and fortuitous union occurs. They join forces to set up a temping agency, creating opportunities for themselves, to leave the past behind and to become gainfully employed in a manner that gives them a new independence. Finding your own feet, however, is never an easy task. The women fly before they walk, and with a hilarity derived from their naivety, we watch them in Unqualified, fumbling and learning to come into their own.

Genevieve Hegney and Catherine Moore’s play contains a suite of excellent jokes, all stemming from a meaningful concept, involving women resisting their societal obligations as wives and daughters. Its general plot is insufficiently taut, but the show is a successful expansion of the skit format, with speedy exchanges between the two designed to provide what seems an endless amount of very clever punchlines.

The writers present their own creation, both impressive with the detail that they bring on stage, along with a sensational display of chemistry determined to hold us captive. Moore is particularly delightful as the jovial Felicity, delivering a comic performance astonishing in its efficacy, precision and inventiveness. Director Janine Watson orchestrates the action so that there is plenty of colour and movement to occupy our attention. Even when the story stagnates, we find ourselves luxuriating in the laughs that come through incessantly, and effortlessly.

Few people seem to be able go through life never having to make any sacrifices; many of us look as though we are never capable of putting ourselves first. Unqualified is a work celebrating the discovery, when it finally dawns upon us, that there is a finite amount to what we can owe, and that true fulfilment requires an individual to understand what it is that will realise their true potential. Felicity and Joanne spent many years cultivating a sense of worth, by following prescribed rules. It is satisfying to witness their moment of self-determination, as they make the decision to break free. Humour can help us through anything, but emancipation is ultimately the biggest reward.

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