Immerse yourselves in an experience at the SINGING WOK review by Meredith Fuller
‘MEI LING IN MELBOURNE’
By Moni Lai Storz, dir Wolf Heidecker,
CAST Isabelle Wang, Marie-Therse Byrne, Karan Bhatia, Keam-Mar Lai
CREW Phil Trainer, Richard Lyford-Pike.
I have known Moni Lai Storz since 1975, when she was my lecturer for my B.A. Psych/Sociology. A clever dynamo, she instilled love of stretching our little grey cells, being open to cross cultural diversity, and the meaning of community. Nothing has slowed her – last night we walked into an amazing experience. Moni created the SINGING WOK – a theatre café in Elwood, to build community, entertain, give creatives opportunities, support charities, and spread joy and belonging. We must make opportunities for ourselves in the creative arts – Moni’s venture is an excellent example. Like many of us who run our own little theatres, she is committed to helping new actors gain experience by including them with veterans of theatre.
Downstairs, Moni beams ‘welcome’ to all, the Asian food is superb, and her networking/putting together like-minded souls is inspired. Brian and I made some new friends; other film makers, performers, writers, and creatives. Curry puffs, nasi goreng, and other dishes were devoured while we chatted.
We were directed up the ‘piano steps’ for the play precisely at 8pm.
Cosy, intimate, and fun describes the little theatre.
ISABELLE WANG is Mei Ling, who moves to Australia with her husband John. Wardrobe design for all actors was perfect. Beautiful WANG was exquisite in her sailor-inspired outfit, tumbling curls, and flattering navy blue. She has worked professionally in China, studied at VCA and NIDA, and also sings like an angel. She was perfect for the role – her work was lovely last night. Her ‘I (we) have a dream’ a duet with the incomparable Marie-Therese Byrne (who plays her American mother-in-law) was the highlight of the evening.
BYRNE is a veteran actor well-known in theatre, film, stage and opera. I saw her tour-de-force performance in “The Importance of Being Earnest” at La Bassa at the end of 2018, and I love her ability to play any role with aplomb. BRYNE takes command of any room she enters, and her blocking is excellent – she is magnificent to watch. More significantly, she also supports less experienced actors, such as the additional cast members, in subtle, thoughtful ways that demonstrate what a professional asset she is to Melbourne theatre.
Karan Bhatie plays John, her son. BHATIE is handsome and earnestly laconic as he evolves his style.
Keam-Mar Lai plays Wally, injecting some humour both with his role and colour palette. Watch for his signature finale! This contrasts nicely with Phil Trainer, the menacing busker.
Cast & crew did a great job managing a small space, and used lighting to transport us to each scene with verisimilitude.
I thoroughly enjoyed the music, and songs. I want to hear more.
The SINGING WOK and Plays performed there are sure to make Elwood ‘the place to be’ for great food, making new friends, and finding your creative tribe.
152 Tennyson St, ELWOOD. Takeaway and eat-in. for info about performances, email firstname.lastname@example.org