REVIEW PERFORMING ARTS: The Story of Meredith Crocksley

After sell-out performances at both the Adelaide Fringe and Cabaret Festivals in 2007, the very talented singer and performer Libby O’Donovan has finally graced Melbourne with her show The Story of Meredith Crocksley.
REVIEW PERFORMING ARTS: The Story of Meredith Crocksley
After sell-out performances at both the Adelaide Fringe and Cabaret Festivals in 2007, the very talented singer and performer Libby O’Donovan has finally graced Melbourne with her show The Story of Meredith Crocksley. Only an hour in length, The Story of Meredith Crocksley is an action packed cabaret style production with enough witty entertainment to keep you on your toes and make you want more at the end. Precluding the performance is a video of Meredith’s mother Anne (also Libby’s mother in real life) playing the piano and singing a beautiful rendition of ‘Dido’s Lament’ by Henry Purcell. Acknowledging that this must be where Libby gets her musical abilities from, the songstress, accompanied by two very talented musicians (Kathie Renner on Piano, guitar and backing vocals and Belinda Gehlert on violin) enters and the journey begins. Throughout the show – assisted by the use of cleverly collected video footage and beautifully arranged songs - we are introduced to one interesting character after another that has an impact and an opinion on Meredith’s life. We meet Anne’s so-called best friend ‘Shirley’ who not only steals Anne’s job as the church’s organ player, but also gives Anne very bad parenting advice" we meet the ‘town gossip’ who refers to Meredith as a ‘drooling retard’ and her mother as ‘her bloody mother Anne’ who obviously locks Meredith up in a cupboard" and we meet Meredith’s ‘best friend’ who is not only a toothless wonder of a woman but also claims to have invented half of the world’s gadgets and earns millions of dollars in income. Raised as the daughter of an Anglican priest, it is clear in Libby’s mind and expressed poignantly on the stage that most of these characters, if not all the people belonging to this one-horse town, are hypocrites dressed in Christian clothing. So who is Meredith Crocksley anyway? Meredith is a fictional character who is based on Libby’s real life experience of growing up in rural NSW. Meredith is the ‘social outcast’ that the whole town loves to gossip about, the ‘retarded’ child of an unfortunate relationship between Anne (a farmer’s wife with lost dreams) and Larry (the farmer who was raised by dingos and sodomised by the town recluse). Meredith really is the misfit archetype of every country town and without whom the town just wouldn’t be the same. The Story of Meredith Crocksley is a wonderful piece of cabaret style theatre. Brilliantly written and directed with the help of Andrea Lemon and beautifully performed by Libby O’Donovan. The songs, which are weaved throughout the story line, were sung with strength and grace and made the audience both laugh and cry. This is a performer and a show that will go far in the competitive world of the performing arts. I wish Libby well on her already successful carrer and I am glad that I had the chance to meet Meredith Crocksley.

Melynda von Derksen

Tuesday 27 January, 2009

About the author

Melynda is a Melbourne based freelance photographer, arts manager and fashion stylist who enjoys creating her own projects and reinventing herself on a continual basis. Graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1996 where she majored in technical production in theatre, she has worked as a lighting designer, stage manager and theatre all rounder for many of Melbourne's best known creative companies. Eager to expand on her professional career, in 2004 she undertook a post graduate degree in arts management at the University of Melbourne. Since then she has worked in the area of arts administration and has used her skills to coordinate many successful cabaret events around town. As well as being part of the La Mama family for almost a decade, she continues to stick her finger in every type of creative pie that life has to offer. She is currently researching and writing a photographic book based on the history of the Melbourne Punk scene (1977 - onwards), which she hopes will be published in the next few years.