Review: Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club (Ensemble Theatre)

Venue: Ensemble Theatre (Kirribilli NSW), Jan 9 – Feb 26, 2022
Playwright: Tracey Trinder
Director: Francesca Savige
Cast: Valerie Bader, Chantelle Jamieson, Bron Lim, Kate Raison, Georgina Symes
Images by Lisa Tomasetti

Theatre review
Katie is the new addition to a small book club, of which Robyn is the unofficial head. The two women are diametric opposites, with Katie being the vivacious and carefree one, and Robyn showing herself to be quite the stodgy, uptight character. In Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club, playwright Tracey Trinder does not quite pit women against each other, as much as she tries to portray the challenges in how we are able, or not able, to find inspiration in one another, especially when coming from a range of diverse experiences.

The vast difference in personalities gives rise to immediate conflict, which lends to great humour, but not all of Trinder’s dialogue is consistently witty. The production relies on an unrelenting effervescence, that director Francesca Savige so cleverly manufactures, to keep us in a cheery mood. Tobhiyah Stone Feller’s set and costume designs are suitably whimsical and colourful, proving effective in foregrounding amusing aspects of the story. Kelsey Lee’s lights, along with Daryl Wallis’ sound, provide valuable variation in tone between scenes to sustain our attention, in addition to the many subtle enhancements for when nuance in the text needs to be highlighted.

A wonderfully cohesive ensemble of five, comprising women across three generations, deliver a show that practises exactly what it preaches. The cast’s extraordinary camaraderie demonstrates the successes available to us, when our forces are joined in good faith. Chantelle Jamieson’s natural and confident charm, turns Katie’s grating tendencies into something altogether more appealing; we can see how the unrelenting exuberance is gnawing to Robyn, but Jamieson ensures that her character translates only with joy and glee, to her captive audience. The exasperating Robyn is played by a deeply committed Kate Raison, who brings maddening authenticity to a painful personality we have all encountered.

Bron Lim does marvellously as Linda, with a warm sincerity and an endlessly reliable instinct, that allow everything she offers, to feel believable and immediate. Georgina Symes is quirky as Sam, with an enjoyable intensity that keeps the stage abuzz with energy. Valerie Bader’s flawless comic timing makes unforgettable her turn as Angela, whose pointed quips are counted on, to provoke some of the show’s biggest laughs.

Plurality is surely better than singularity, in how we perceive our identities as women. The more we are able to be appreciative of other women’s idiosyncrasies, the more likely it is for us to be individually self-accepting. Invariably, we have all suffered from having been conditioned into believing that certain women are good and many, many others are not good enough. We are all trained to be convenient, and in turn, we routinely impose those same constrictions on everybody else. Most of those rules are in desperate need to be broken, and the permission to do so, can only come from within.