I am so pleased with myself that I have chosen yet another great evening at the theatre. Last Night at the Powerhouse I saw the QueenslandTheatre Company's production of 'Elizabeth:Almost by Chance a Woman' which is a high camp, obscene, raucously funny, absurdist piece of modern anarchy in the form of Commedia dell'arte. Highly improvised by the quick witted cast to fit local politics, today's news and filthy puns depending on the flow of the evening and the type, age and mood of the audience. Constant references to the Bastard Bard and his plays added to the fascinating multiple layers that kept even the most seasoned theatre goer on their toes as they attempted to glean every bit of the complex stimulating wit. It is no mere slapstick and as one baby-boomer audience member said, it was one of the best fun evenings he had had at the theatre in ages.
We were treated to a wonderful cast with Carol Burns as the dramatic, hilarious, peeing Elizabeth, both funny and sad, Eugene Gilfedder who plays characters from Shakespeare to most notably Grosslady is an invention of pure obscene gibberish, Jason Klarwein as Egerton who does wonderful references to Othello, an assasin and a brilliant diatribe on modern warfare/politics that would do a Modern Major General proud. Sarah Kennedy as Martha and the wonderful voice of Dash Kruck as the fool Thomas, who can really sing and managed to show us his bare bottom as well.
Mention has to be made of the sixth member of the cast who was the musical director, improvising musician and Mr Byrd - John Rodgers. He too played with what ever themes he felt appropriate on the evening with reference to pop, pomp and circumstance and any musical joke worth having.
A special surprise treat was that after the show many of us stayed behind for a Q&A with the full cast, director and stage manager. It was fascinating to get the background to how they plotted the evening each night and how they reacted with amazing talent to the reactions of the audience and added comments about topical matters while keeping the rhythm of the play. The director said that even he was surprised with the inventive differences that emerged each performance.
Directed by:- Wesley Enoch
Designed by:- Simone Romaniuk
Dario Fo (born 24th March 1926) wrote this in 1984 and he also received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997. Fo is a sharp tongued subversive Italian playwright, satirist, actor, director and composer. He and his wife Franca Rame played Grosslady and Elizabeth in the original production.
Footnote:- The adaptor of this brilliant piece of theatre, Louise Fox was a recipient of The Queensland Premier's Literary Award as was the writer of another great play I saw recently, A Hoax by Rick Viede.
The new red-neck LNP government elected here recently under the premiership of one Campbell Newman has already done away with this award (mentioned scathingly in the play) along with their push to send human rights back to the dark ages with their reversal of legal gains made by the previous government and the gay community in Queensland. I bet Dario Fo would join us in condemning such Neanderthal behaviour.
A great interview with one of the dashing cast - Dash Kruck talking about theatre, his boyfriend and he sings as well.
Part one of a publicity video