Review: The Rolling Stone, Seymour Centre

Glen Falkenstein

You wouldn’t expect a play about anti-gay violence in Uganda to nail its comedy.
Review: The Rolling Stone, Seymour Centre

(L-R) Nancy Denis, Henrietta Amevor, ELjiah Williams, Zufi Emerson, Mandela Mathia in The Rolling Stone. By Chris Urch. Photo by Clare Hawley.

Dembe (Elijah Williams) is navigating a burgeoning romance with Sam (Damon Manns), an Irish Doctor himself of Ugandan background. Dembe has to be more than careful to not attract the attention of the locals, among them his family members Wummie (Zufi Emerson) and Joe, a preacher (Mandela Mathia).

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Nancy Denis (Mama) and Henrietta Amevor (Naome) round out the cast of the Outhouse Theatre Co’s and Seymour Centre’s latest production, The Rolling Stone. The two female characters are partly and regrettably extraneous to the main action.

Staged on a minimalist, earthen ground and on a slightly raised platform allows for the cast to mill around the action. A glaringly blue backdrop, propounded by blue lighting, clashes strongly with what otherwise invokes a considered naturalism. 

The interactions between Dembe and Sam are heartfelt and uncommonly idiosyncratic. Never resting on a straightforward nor overly-besotted romance; to this end their conundrum is believable and all the more impactful. What is most engaging here is the underlined moments where the pair’s comic abilities and timing resonate most. No match for Mathia’s stage presence however, his implorations and protestations – many directed at the audience as if they were crammed in the pews – situates and involves us in the action that is taking place so far away.

Elijah Williams and Mandela Mathia in The Rolling Stone. Photo by Clare Hawley.

One of a number of flawed figures whose antecedents are teased throughout is Emerson’s Wummie. Neither a full-throated detractor of the prevailing societal circumstances nor is she so contentious to Dembe, Wummie is a most complex and engaging addition as she navigates the escalating tensions in this play. 

The Rolling Stone manages the nuance and most compelling treatises of its subject matter as it steers towards a very moving, unexpected finale.

Rating: 4 stars ★★★★

The Rolling Stone
By Chris Urch

Presented by Outhouse Theatre Co and Seymour Centre 
Director Adam Cook
Producer Outhouse Theatre Co
Set Designer Isabel Hudson
Lighting Design Sian James-Holland
Sound Composition and Design Nate Edmondson
Production Manager Felix Johnson
Stage Manager Hannah Tonks
Photographer Marnya Rothe
Joe Mandela Mathia
Sam Damon Manns
Dembe Elijah Williams
Mama Nancy Denis
Naome Henrietta Amevor
Wummie Zufi Emerson

5- 21 July, 2018
Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre, Chippendale

 
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Glen produces film, theatre and television reviews and commentary, covering festivals, interviews and events. Glen lives in Sydney and enjoys making short films. Read more at falkenscreen.com

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