Sydney review - The Widow Unplugged: a standout performance
The Widow Unplugged
By Reg Livermore
An Ensemble Theatre production
Directed by Mark Kilmurry
78 McDougall Street
Season: July 26 – September 1. Bookings: https://boxoffice.ensemble.com.au or (02) 9929 0644
One-man stage shows nearly always impress – just remembering the non-stop monologue for 100 minutes or more is quite a talent in itself. Then add in all the actions and stage directions to remember - plus, the weight of responsibility to entertain the audience. And then, try doing it all at 79 years of age.
This is Reg Livermore, in top form, in a play he also wrote.
The Widow Unplugged tells the story of Arthur Kwick, a man in his twilight years who reflects on his chequered acting career, the highs and lows (mostly lows) and his current new challenge which unexpectedly comes his way. The highlight of his career was in 1969 when he played Widow Twankey in a pantomime called Aladdin at a flash Sydney theatre.
Now, all his past roles have kind of merged and become part of his own character and he gets by day by day reliving ‘glorious’ moments. Occassionally, he takes reviews to his heart too much as he laments “I used to be a good actor once, not a very good one according to the Sydney Morning Herald”.
There is no regret in Arthur Kwick’s life, just happy and realistic recollections of his achievements. The mood is always upbeat and cheery, a tribute to Livermore’s optimistic outlook.
The story progresses at a good pace and Livermore prances the stage in clown outfit and re-enacts key conversations that have marked his life’s work. Reg’s skill as an actor is on full display. The audience is with him as the quick-witted one-liners just keep coming. Livermore’s use of different accents is first-class – from ocker-strine to refined English private school. Arthur also suffers from dyslexia of speech, muddling, mispronouncing, or misusing words and phrases, and this created plenty of laughs with no loss of meaning.
Other actors could present this play, but Reg Livermore owns the role of Arthur Kwick. Its part biographical and part fiction, the story is etched on Livermore’s face.
Mark Kilmurry, Director, has succeeded in keeping the audience focussed and, most importantly, entertained. There is plenty of movement around the stage and props are aplenty.
Full marks as well to Charles Davis, the Set and Costume Designer. Costumes were colourful, loud and flamboyant. In contrast, the living room set was fabulously simple and featured a chair, a door, a window and a bar trolley with assorted props (bells, whistles, etc) which Reg used with much glee. I was intrigued by the placement of a clock without hands and am still pondering the meaning of this. There were very creative scene changes using vertical blinds, roller blind and curtains. I almost felt I was in a Mansours store.
There were lots of sound and lighting effects as well which went hand in hand with the mood changes in the storyline.
Is Reg Livermore Australia’s Robin Williams? His wit, facial expressions, accents, demeanour, warmth, and ability to draw the audience into his confidence make him a standout performer.
It was a most enjoyable production best seen in the intimacy of the Ensemble Theatre. Go see!