Director Judy Ellis began her incredible scope of experience in Perth in the 1950’s, and through various companies has staged some of the greatest plays there are out there, often to packed out theatres.
*She also directed this multi-award-winning but at times a notoriously difficult young actor in the role of Uncle Louie in 2015’s “Lost in Yonkers”, for Geelong rep. What can I say, Judy? Now I’m judging you? The tables have turned…..
Ellis’ most recent project is her own company, Onamatappear, whose focus will be to bring original, Australian theatre to the Melbourne stage. For this season, she has enlisted the work of writer Sandy Fairthorne, and assembled a truly fine cast to bring it to fruition. “Jeremy Perfect” is what a soap opera might become, if only the writers had a chance at a second draft. There are clichés; the drunken writer, the torrid affair, the passive-aggressive and ultimately abusive psychiatrist wife, and so on.The underlying need to be loved and to procreate provides the motivation for this lost and lonely assortment of characters.
Having said that, this is well executed work.
Dialogue is an immense improvement on what one normally finds in Australian theatre, Fairthorne shows a finesse with her work that translates excellently to the stage and her years of study are evident.
The casting choices are also inspired. Most notably in the forms of Simon Finch, a Geelong native whose work is a staple of the town’s better-quality live performances and Ruby Wall, with whom he shares scenes of explosive chemistry and whose own subtlety adds an intimate touch of reality to material that might hazard melodrama in lesser hands. Alex McTavish is also in excellent form here. The pain in her character is so well created and so expertly concealed that in the moments it does surface, it elicits genuine shock from the audience.
There is extraordinary bravery and intimacy being asked of the cast here. And with the delicacy one might expect of her, Judy Ellis has encouraged creative choices, lent as much to the intimacy and reality of the performances as expected in what might be suggested to have been a somewhat restrictive rehearsal period. Despite this pressure and the logistics of having a lead actor living in another city, she has enticed out courageous performances from her entire cast and they must be applauded for giving themselves over to the material and their director.
In lesser hands, “Jeremy Perfect” would surely slide into the ridiculous, it is just the nature of such intimate scripts, they balance a fine line that must be respected at all times.
Gladly, it has been done skillfully by all here.
Review by Max Davine