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Sydney review- Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica: wonderfully funny and uplifting story

By Paul Kiely

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

By David Williamson

Directed by Mark Kilmurry

An Ensemble Theatre Production

Ensemble Theatre

78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli

Season: 10 March – 29 April 2023 Bookings: Duration: 120 minutes (with interval)

Georgie Parker and Glenn Hazeldine

The word ‘Rhinestone’ immediately makes me think of ‘Cowboy’. So, when I saw the title of the current play at Ensemble Theatre ‘Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica’, I thought that David Williamson had delved into the great ‘Western’ genre.

Well, he does a little bit. Set mostly in the living room of Monica in Sydney’s inner ‘western’ suburb of Glebe, it is a tale of unlikely love flourishing amidst a kitchen renovation, price renegotiations and dissimilar musical tastes.

Monica (Georgie Parker) is going through a bad patch. Her rising star as a classical violinist in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is on hold due to tendonitis in her shoulder. As she ponders a life unable to play her instrument, she embarks on a simple kitchen renovation. Her chosen installer Gary (Glenn Hazeldine) is a knock-about fellow, keen to persuade Monica of variations to her kitchen vision and argues for a higher price due to ‘unexpected’ building issues.

Is he a con man? Can he be trusted? He’s a good talker, so Monica perseveres, with the renovation taking longer and longer to complete. We see a series of battles take place between opposites: Should the kitchen be traditional versus plain IKEA?; stainless steel versus porcelain?

But the biggest skirmish evolves around whose taste in music is more superior: Gary’s country-western or Monica’s classical?

The writing of David Williamson is so relatable. As the two characters passionately defend their music genres (almost to a point of terminating Gary’s services) and openly denigrate the other, a bond slowly develops. Soon, the intensity of their differences is the spark they need to find similarities. And the trigger? A mutual taste for Indian food!

The rest of the story is true to the rom-com formula. Along the way, we also get short lessons in music appreciation, ranging from Glenn Campbell’s ‘Galveston’ to Ravel’s ‘Bolero’. The net effect is a wonderfully funny and uplifting story which celebrates Australian peculiarities.

The actors and Director Mark Kilmurry are all favourites of David Williamson. The reasons are self-evident.

Georgie Parker shows why she is at the forefront of our countries acting talent in the role of Monica. Georgie’s confidence and conviction when dealing with tradie Gary is impressive and yet her portrayal of a lonely, vulnerable woman had the audience sympathising.

Likewise, Glenn Hazeldine nailed the character of Gary. He managed to balance the attributes of likability, strength and lonesomeness. Parker and Hazeldine showed great chemistry. As a team, their timing was perfect; each of them animated and perky.

Mark Kilmurry’s direction put the final stamp of expertise on this production. The set was impressive; staging delivered well. The unseen kitchen, with its loud hammering, drilling and sawing, was the catalyst in bringing the two opposites closer.

There is nothing dull about ‘Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica.’ It is another entertaining production from the Ensemble crew. With a clever, humorous script and spirited acting, this play is a belly-laugh that all will enjoy.


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