Left – Nancye Hayes. Cover – Nancye Hayes and Reg Livermore
On a sleepy Wednesday afternoon I am surprised to find to find the Playhouse at Melbourne’s Arts Centre filled with eager patrons for the matinee performance of Reg Livermore’s Turns. The veteran actor along with his equally admired stage partner Nancye Hayes prove that age is no barrier to puling in a crowd (even on a miserable Melbourne day).
Hayes’ vivid performance of ageing showgirl Marjory Joy is perfectly unstable as she battles with the prospect of slipping out of the limelight and fading into the shadows.
Along with her long suffering son Alistair (played by Livermore) the two Aussie theatre royals are irrepressible as they laugh, cry, sing and try not to murder one another before the first act is through.
Turns is a throwback to 1940’s vaudeville and is the brainchild of Mr. Livermore whose incredible imagination has captured audiences throughout his 54-year career. The pantomime style of narrative in Turns isn’t to everyone’s taste, but invokes a nostalgic walk down memory lane.
Watching Livermore and Hayes perform is like being greeted by old friends, the pair exude such genuine affection for each other it is easy to see them interact as mother and son. Turns is a story many can relate too, an ageing parent, quickly losing their marbles and a desperate child trying to care so intently that their own life is put on the shelf.
While the first half of the show tells Marjory’s story, it is in the second act that Livermore takes to the stage to reveal a few of his mothers secrets, and an important secret of his own.
Turns is a wonderful story of family, and the lengths one will go to too protect their (fabricated) identity. Both mother and son have been living a lie, and it takes the entire 90 minutes for the truth to be revealed. Accompanied by the glorious Vincent Colagiuri on Piano, Turns is offset by the incredible costumes of Mathew Aberline, who’s over the top gowns reflect Ms. Joy’s flamboyant personality and energy.
In use of an interval between the two acts, Turns is a wink and a nod to times past with both Marjory and Alistair’s journey to self-understanding a joy to watch. As the duo square off for what may be the last time on stage, Turns is a definite for any theatre fan. Livermore and Hayes remind audiences how theatre used to be.
Christine Dunstan Productions presents
by Reg Livermore
Directed by Tom Healey
Venue: Playhouse theatre, The Arts Centre | 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Dates: Wednesday 29 June – Saturday 9 July, 2011
Times: Wed – Fri 8:00pm, Sat 8:30pm
Matinees: Wed at 1:00pm. Also Sat 2/7 at 5:00pm, Tue 5/7 at 6:30pm
Tickets: $60 - $85
Bookings: Ticketmaster 136 100 | www.ticketmaster.com.au