Review – Centenary Theatre’s True Minds: thoroughly entertaining
Above: Benedict (Trevor Sammon), Mitch (Stephen Quinn) and Tracy (Leigh Varma).
Right: Beck Haining as Daisy Grayson with Leigh Varma.
By Joanna Murray-Smith
Directed by Gary O’Neil
Centenary Theatre Group
Chelmer Community Hall
Cnr Queenscroft and Halsbury streets
Season runs until March 24. Duration: one hour 45 minutes without interval. Bookings: 0435 591 720 or www.centenarytheatre.com.au
Gary O’Neil chose a difficult play in True Minds. It is a family sitcom that runs for close to two hours without a break and is peopled with frantic characters, albeit a bit stereotyped, who rarely paused in movement or lines.
It could have been a strain on actors and audience alike.
Luckily O’Neil found a cast strong enough to cope with the strain and thoroughly entertain the audience, including hearing impaired guests who had Auslan interpreters on hand. Lightning fast cue were picked without hesitation and the energy level never wavered and beautifully cluttered and well-built set.
The play sees Daisy Grayson (Beck Haining) the author of a best-selling book which tells her audience that no man will marry a woman his mother disapproves of. Now she is engaged to be married and is about to meet “Mother”.
As the action opens Daisy is frantically cleaning up her house as she awaits the arrival of her future mother-in-law, Vivienne Reynolds (Beverley Wood) who is an ultra right wing matriarch. As a storm rages outside Daisy isn’t being helped by the presence of her divorced hippy mother Tracy (Leigh Varma) who rambles on about her toy boy and her rampant sex life.
Then her ex-lover the feckless Mitch (Stephen Quinn) turns up. He has just been released from a long stint in a drug rehab centre and is hoping to take up where he left off in the romance stakes.
Then, using Daisy’s house as his port in a storm, in pops Vivienne’s nemesis, Daisy’s left wing ideologue father Max (Trevor Bond).
Where Daisy has decided she doesn’t love Mitch any more, Max is obviously delighted to see his old friend.
So everyone is there except fiancé Benedict (Trevor Sammon), who has been delayed at the airport.
Then the fun begins as Vivienne gets maudlin on vodka, Mitch tries all dirty tricks in his low-life book to win Daisy away from the rich businessman, Max fight and flirts with Vivienne and Tracy bemoans being dumped by her toy boy, while Daisy tries to cope with them all.
Then Benedict arrives and is just as stuffy and work-oriented as Mitch is useless. He’s also a mummy’s boy. The barbs and clever one-liners flow, views are confused and everyone seems to be trying to win over everyone else, except for Daisy, who frantically tries to keep the peace and fight off the over-friendly Mitch.
Beck Haining did a mighty job with a huge role as she mixed it with what looked like a completely hostile group of family and friends. Her comic timing was spot on and her diction perfect. Not that there was a problem with any of the actors, they all filled their roles admirably.
I don’t know the play well, so I’m not sure whether it was script or direction, but I found Mitch to be an obnoxious brat rather than a loveable rogue and Benedict to be an insufferable fool
This is not Joanna Murray-Smith’s best play and is a bit contrived at times with highly predictable outcomes. But how Daisy chooses between Mitch and Benedict I will leave for you to find out.
Personally, if she were my daughter, I would have thrown both of the miserable creatures out into the rain.