managing carmen

‘Managing Carmen’ is a hilarious, fast moving comedy about an AFL superstar. It was written by David Williamson in 2012, and is being presented by the Harbour Theatre, in the Camelot Theatre, at 16 Lochee Street in Mosman Park. The two-hour performances are on each Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 7.30 until Saturday 30th March, with Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm on the 24th and 31st March.

Williamson’s plays and comedies had a few years when the humour was quite political, and one felt that he was driving a message; this play however is light-hearted and very funny, he is back to the madcap situations we learnt to love in the 70s.

The scenes: The footie club’s publicity officer’s office. The player’s flat. On the stage apron were a few brief pub passages and a beach scene.

The set (designers Peter Kirkwood and Ann Speicher): The set was painted in pale pastel shades. The office had lemon walls with grey furniture (some furnishings convincingly painted onto the back flat). There was a smart desk and comfortable chairs. The flat’s sitting room had white leather chairs and a drinks trolley. Thanks to scenic artist Melissa Bassett, on one wall was a framed team guernsey, on the other a contemporary portrait of a young woman. Good solid and smart set built by Brian Mahoney, Matt Cuccovia, Grace Hitchin, David Eggleston, Jim Davies, Phil Redding and Kit Leake. The stage manager, Charlotte Weber, was assisted by Brian Mahoney (as Geoff) and Solonje Burns. This team also acted as extras for crowd scenes. There were quite a few scene changes, but the team worked superbly, and rarely took more than 5 or 10 seconds. Jarrod had to move in with a tall pedestal, bar table and look ‘casual’ by the time the lights came back on. He had this move several times and was never caught out – the audience loved it. Above the rear flat was a projection screen for the video and photographs by Guido Nigri.

The lighting was designed by Rob Tagliaferri and operated by Jane Sherwood or Callum Hunter. The lighting had to cover a bright beach scene, dim street lighting and a pulsating nightclub. Vanessa Gudgeon’s fine sound design had good sound effects and a great choice of music.

The first Act opens with dual Brownlow medallist, Brent Lyall (Declan Waters), already a National AFL hero at 22 yrs., speaking into a commercial camera – for their fortieth take! He is trying to promote some vitamin formula. Irrespective of the acting instructions that he receives, his voice retains the same disinterested and boring tone. With this advertising contract worth multi-millions of dollars, the team’s foulmouthed promotions manager, Rohan Swift (Gordon Park) decides to engage a psychiatrist, Jessica Giordano (Jess Lally) to find out why Brent is so apprehensive in company. The manager also hired a young woman, Clara (Stacey Broomhead) a local scrubber, to hang onto Brent’s arm at the Awards Night. A famous but disreputable sports journalist, Max Upfield (Jarrod Buttery) is out for a scandalous scoop – but can he get it? What is Brent’s problem?

Declan Waters and Jess Lally both proved their immense acting talent by playing major parts in ‘Henry V’ (a mammoth 4-hour play), both winning an award; now they are in a wild comedy and just as capable. Many congrats.

The makeup which had to be applied very rapidly for some scenes, was the clever work of Solonje Burns.

All the actors, thanks to talented director Ann Speicher, were very well rehearsed and had fabulous chemistry coupled with a natural comedic delivery. Every member of the cast had superb timing and incredible amusing movement. Very much recommended, but I suspect that some nights may well be sold out already. Try TAZ Entertainment quickly.