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And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little | 3Some Productions
Written by Augusta Supple   
Friday, 30 May 2008 22:14
And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little | Darlinghurst Theatre & 3Some ProductionsLeft - Monique Spanbrook and Lucinda Armour. Photo - Nicholas Higgins

And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little…
whilst set in domestic dysfunction, is a play which according to director Nicholas Papademetriou, addresses the broader issues of “how the world is getting faster, madder and harder.” And if you are looking for a play exploring ideas pertaining to: advancing technology, changing social modes, spirituality, sibling rivalry, co-dependency, paternal abandonment, the education system, vegetarianism (and all its attendant politics), insanity, sexual indiscretions with a student, anal retention and workplace nepotism…. Well…here it is... Miss Reardon has it all…  look no further…

Two sisters live in the apartment of their now deceased mother, after nursing her through her terminal illness. Anna (Lucinda Armour) is a teacher in the middle of a mental breakdown/phantom bout of rabies acquired from a stray cat, and is supported by her ever-attentive yet slightly alcoholic vice-principal sister Catherine (Helen O’Connor). When their estranged sister Ceil (Monique Spanbrook) arrives unexpectedly in her dual function as sister and superintendent of the education department, an unlikely power struggle erupts as the past is dredged up in an attempt to discover the reasons behind her sister’s breakdown. As the programme cover states: “One Night, Three sisters, a whole lot of trouble...”

Trouble indeed… lots of it. Primarily, Paul Zindel’s play feels dusty and dull. Though valiant attempts to make the 1967 script pithy and relevant to a contemporary Australian audiences with mentions of “myspace” and “being sent to Iraq”, the sloppy structure of the play, decorated with functional and fleeting characters, namely Mrs Pentrano (Bernadette Hughson), an Avon lady of sorts and a hip hoppin’ delivery boy (Dominic di’Tommaso or Vincent Jones Varga depending on which night you attend), leaves a lot to be desired. The lengthy and monotonous conversations of the sisters are made even less tolerable due to the complete lack of character development within the script: what you see is truly what you get. Relief arrives briefly in the characters of Fleur (May Lloyd) and Bob (Nicholas Papademetriou) who drive the scenes with animated and vivacious confidence until they too wear out their welcome. Lloyd can be commended for her complete commitment to character, and for imbuing some subtext into, what, on the surface may be regarded as an homage to Fran Drescher. Accompanying the stale script drenched in exposition are cumbersome American accents that fluctuate as they flirt with the occasional Australian diphthong. One wonders what compelled the contemporization of the script, without neutralizing the accent? A change of time, but not of place? In addition to this, this reviewer was also left wondering what is the genre? At times played as an intense familial drama, at others action is fractured by the appearance of farcical fancy as the staunch vegetarian is encased in a fur coat… Is this a black comedy? Is it a comedy? How am I to understand the tragedy of woman’s breakdown? Who am I to believe? According to the New York Times’ quote on the website “The audience went berserk with the humour of this play” and I sincerely wonder why.

Unfortunately there are no answers offered in John Pryce Jones’ design. What is, in essence, a beautiful and poetic design concept (an apartment made of/encased in bubble wrap) is completely confused by hyper-realistic 50’s décor and furniture of an ill-designed house which is accompanied by a painted cityscape (inspired by Elwood Middle High Art Class, New York) and strange naive art portraits of the family (inspired by Bedford Middle High Art Class, Connecticut)…

Nicholas Higgins’s lighting design is adequate for the most part, but highly under utilized until the final moments of the play we finally see a clever and evocative use of light…but to what end?

There is no shortage of talent in this production: the cast is accomplished and the crew experienced however, 3Some Productions’ And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little… is severely congested with too many ideas, too many issues, too many accents, too many design concepts, too much exposition and not enough rehearsal, leaving the whole experience anything but “faster, madder, harder.”

Darlinghurst Theatre Company and 3Some Productions present
by Paul Zindel

Venue: Darlinghurst Theatre Company | 19 Greenknowe Avenue Potts Point
Dates: Thursday May 29 - Saturday June 21
Times: 8pm Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm Sundays
Tickets: Adult $30, Conc $25
Bookings: www.darlinghursttheatre.com or 02 8356 9987
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Comments (3)

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i so this show on friday night and totally disagree. it wasn't a play with answers, but it raised some issues. i think the reviewer got this totally wrong, except for the bit about the accents, which did come and go. but i don't think they changed the place and not the accents - i think they definitely were in new york but just didn't always get the accents right. anyway, i thought it was funny and moving and not pretentious like a lot of modern theatre.
penelope smithson , June 01, 2008
To quibble first, regarding time, place, and accents, I think you might misunderstand that particular section of the review. The issue is not whether the play is set in New York; rather, it is: why bother retaining the American setting if the issues, so meekly explored in the 3Some production, are in fact universal?

The review takes umbrage, as I do, that the show saw fit to update the period of the text but let stand all the other cultural referents. There?s nothing uniquely New York about acceleration, insanity, or alienation, so why bother using that location if the accents are going to oscillate so wildly? Perhaps we saw different productions. I was in the audience on Thursday and would be willing to chalk it up to opening night jitters. Except that
Miss Reardon? fails to reach even base level competence on many levels?technical, performative, etc.?and surely doesn?t need something else dragging it down into the mire.
J. Cassidy , June 02, 2008
Hey guys
You should both chill out. I thought it was really funny. I don't the fixation with accents - I mean the three main women were supposed to be a different class to the couple so already there HAS to be different accents. I mean you look at a Seinfeld and you got all 4 main characters with different accents and then you got the other characters. I think it's a bit twisted to say that it didn't reach even base level competence cause that's not even true. I saw it on Sunday night and it was firin. I think the reviewer should see it again cause I don't think they saw the same show I saw. It was a hell of a lot better than a lot of Sydney stuff.
con the man , June 03, 2008

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