Review: Rhinestone Rex And Miss Monica (Ensemble Theatre)

Venue: Ensemble Theatre (Kirribilli NSW), Mar 10 – Apr 29, 2023
Playwright: David Williamson
Director: Mark Kilmurry
Cast: Glenn Hazeldine, Georgie Parker
Images by Prudence Upton

Theatre review

David Williamson’s Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica is a light-hearted 2010 comedy about the romantic attraction between seemingly diametrically opposing personality types. It is on one hand an innocuous work that could not be more pedestrian, yet on the other, it is an absurd fantasy about a woman falling in love with a tradesman she hires, who repeatedly overrides her design decisions thinking he knows better, who goes on radio calling her “crazy”, and who she discovers one morning, had tried to sleep with her the night before, when she was completely intoxicated.

Actors Glenn Hazeldine and Georgie Parker prove themselves extremely endearing, as the eponymous pair, persuasive in having us ignore the inadequacies of the writing almost entirely, to simply enjoy the obvious jokes, in their perfectly timed two-hander. Under Mark Kilmurry’s direction, Hazeldine and Parker present a joyful rom-com, showcasing their talents as consummate performers any audience would be happy to spend time with.

Set design by Veronique Benett lacks versatility, but is beautifully proportioned to allow for a generous and dynamic performance space. Benett’s costumes establish character types with immediacy and accuracy; helping us know instinctively and exactly, who these Sydneysiders are. Lights by Trudy Dalgeish and sound by Daryl Wallis, add simple embellishments, to make an already tight production, feel even more polished.

There is certainly a story to be told about class distinctions in this town, for in our efforts to assert the types of people we are, it seems we habitually and inevitably create systems of exclusion, inside what should be one unified community. Monica and Rex are presented as individuals from different ends of town, but we are expected to believe that love will conquer all, that everything they are associated with, that every incompatibility can be put aside, so that their relationship can flourish.  Lust is an intense force, but every indication is that it does little to ameliorate the social differences we hold so obstinately dear.