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Brisbane review - Mr. Bailey’s Minder: This production is a must see

By Lilian Harrington


Production: Mr. Bailey’s Minder

Writer: Debra Oswald

Director: Phil Carney

Company: Nash Theatre

Location: The Brunswick Room

Uniting Church, 52 Merthyr Rd.  New Farm.

Season: May 10- June 1 @ 7 30pm.

Nash Theatre must be congratulated for their opening night presentation of Mr. Bailey’s Minder, a comedy by Australian writer Debra Oswald, directed by Phil Carney, and featuring a very skilled cast.

Debra Oswald is a prolific Sydney- based Australian writer, whose work has been seen on stage, film, television,  children’s  shows  and novels. She is best known for the stage play Dags, however, more recently  the T.V. series  Secret Life of Us has been to air.  

Mr. Bailey’s Minder is a comedy about a celebrity, artist Leo Bailey, played by John Stibbard, who has become a chronic alcoholic. He has been married five times and he can’t remember all his wives, but he has fathered many children and only one of them, Margo, (Linda Morgan), stayed to help look after him.

Margo employs a live -in -minder to look after her difficult father. Therese, played by Susan O’Toole-Cridland, has a shady background, she has been in prison, is street smart, is rather surly and quick tempered, but she manages  to get some order and routine in Leo’s disorganized life.

Apart from a questionable art dealer who comes in to get Leo to sign blank   release forms for his art pieces, they meet Karl ( Gary Farmer - Trickett), a tradesman, who is employed by Margo to remove a valuable mural from one of the walls. He develops a friendship with Leo and Therese, and returns with gifts and offers of help.

Although the dialogue has a rather difficult pattern for actors, it’s a very funny play. It investigates: alcoholism, friendships, egos, art, and a need to look for a better lifestyle.

John Stibbard and Susan O’Toole-Cridland played the lead characters in this production. They displayed great chemistry and team work, which held everyone’s attention. The role of Leo is quite demanding and needs a lot of in depth thought and John Stibbard gave a thought provoking characterization   in his portrayal. He showed the challenges an alcoholic faces,  ranging  from the depths of despair and frustration, loss of hope and direction, as well as the challenges an alcoholic would go through if they become  sober.

Susan O’Toole - Cridland played opposite John and complimented his role by   providing a strong contrast and displayed different levels of interpretation and understanding in the role which made it more meaningful and entertaining.

The supporting characters Margo,( Linda Morgan), and Gavin/Karl, ( Gary Farmer- Trickett), interacted well with the two leads, and provided good variation and interaction onstage bringing a good pace and energy the performance.

The Creatives lead by Phil Carney, designed an interesting set displaying Leo’s rundown house. The walls decorated in Leo’s ‘artistic style’ and it showed that repairs were needed. Impressive stage management by (Jan Read), helped the show to run smoothly, with no delays or glitches which is impressive in community theatre.  The lighting and sound design by Phil Carney complimented the ideas in the script very successfully in this production. The subtle sound effects added to the image.

If there is one flaw in this production, it can be seen in the final scene, as Leo’s disillusioned daughter is clearing away his things and she is left his prize painting of her. The audience is left undecided after her final moments when she exits. Could there be some other final indicator?  This production is a must see and its great community entertainment.





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