Mammoliti’s immersive concert play is not to be missed, especially in order to witness an auteur orchestrate an amazing experience. The play’s ending reveals universal truths that pull no punches, making the evening both funny and profound.
Director Maurice Mammoliti is an exceptional talent. He selects plays from extraordinary wordsmiths, casts fine actors and crew, and dextrously provides the audience with a lived experience. Staged at The Local Taphouse in Carlisle Street St Kilda, we’re seated at tables and can order food & drinks from the bar where the action takes place over 80 engaging minutes. Mammoliti has that rare combination of visionary intuition and perfectionism – big picture plus detailed thinking – that demands and delivers excellence. I am intrigued wondering what his next project will be; he brings to life different eras by taking us with him in a time capsule while maintaining today’s fresh relevance.
His last expedition took us to Labassa Mansion for Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’
‘Savage in Limbo’ is funny, confronting, arresting, and familiar. We know these people; the perennially fearful who struggle in relationship yet dare to dream of human connection and love. Each character is afraid of – yet wishes to – change in some way. Four will find a way to accommodate some change, but one – despite her courageous self-exploration – remains calcified.
As we watch, we are reflexively relieving our own past experiences of self and others.
We are transfixed by five thirty-somethings in a bar in the Bronx in 1980. For those of us who were around in the 1980’s the music, clothing, and sensibilities are embarrassing in accuracy. As these misfits explore their past, present and future trajectories we wonder if they will flee their limbo or remain forever incarcerated.
The five member ensemble is tight with perfect accents and impeccable performances. Choreography is elegant, and parallels the inner experience of each character. For example, when ‘Denise Savage’ reveals her abject loneliness, the others move to the extreme ends of the venue; hidden and inaccessible for Savage’s soliloquy. When Linda and Tony embrace, we’re all drawn into their lust.
Anna Burgess as ‘Denise Savage’ swoops in like a skittish guineas fowl with unresolved sexual tension and terror. She joins the barman, Dennis Manahan as ‘Murk’, a compacted rigid barn-owl who can keep his body stationery while his head swivels to remain aware of April. Katherine Innes, as ‘April White’ is the vulnerable lost pigeon.
Adele Elasmar is ‘Linda Rotunda’ a sexy, silky chook who tells us about weird problems with her boyfriend. Ross Chisari as ‘Tony Aronica’ makes an entrance after several minutes strutting the room like a self-absorbed rooster whose lack of political correctness invites major guffaws. Linda and Tony both compromise in order to move towards some change; sweet and satisfying.
Burgess delivers her story with pungency and poignancy. Her increasing distress is palpable; plumbing her journey of despair is magnificent.
Similarly, Elasmar channels an ethnic, voluble, voluptuous bombshell. Chisari’s posturing is delightful and his character’s humour provides needed relief. Innes and Manahan are excellent foils that help us to absorb or dispel the bitter tension in our visceras from this tragicomedy.
They captured the audience so completely that when an inebriated patron decided to leave midway through with her partner, loudly striding in front of the actors and knocking a glassful of red wine all over the floor, no one even glanced away from Burgess.
She got her own back at the bows, gesturing for us to acknowledge the upturned wineglass. Witty and clever! Everyone exploded with laughter amidst rapturous applause for the actors. What a night!
Mammoliti says “It’s my aim to not only entertain as I always wanted to but to give the audience a unique experience of immersion that they won’t forget.” I haven’t forgotten Earnest at the historical mansion, with a great cast including Ruby Duncan, Angelique & Greg Pascoe and Marie-Therese Byrne and I won’t be forgetting this one.
Season Runs May 31st – June 12th.
Tickets are selling fast
Food and drink is available. Arrive half an hour early.
Photography by Tameika Brumby
Written Meredith Fuller OAM Psychologist, Author, Media Spokesperson, and Theatre Reviewer attending the preview performance.