THEATRE REVIEW: Wretch

Melynda von Derksen

'Wretch' looks into the relationship between a mother and her son, at love in all its ugly and brilliant forms.
THEATRE REVIEW: Wretch
Wretch looks into the relationship between a mother and her son, at love in all its ugly and brilliant forms. Set within visiting hour in the juvenile detention facility where he is living, the young man struggles to comprehend the manner of his crimes while his mother tentatively tries to reconcile her own story” (Angus Cerini). Upon co-winning the Patrick White Playwright’s Award in 2007 and after 7 long years of creative collaboration with Director Susie Dee, talented writer and performer Angus Cerini has finally been given the opportunity, by La Mama Theatre no less, to have Wretch produced in the professional and artistic way that it deserves. Entering the theatre, the first thing that hits you is the sheer clinical whiteness of the set (designed by Marg Horwell) and almost blinding brightness of the florescent lights (designed by Richard Vabre). In my long association with La Mama I have never seen a set as overpowering as this one and, along with its starkness, it instantly conjures up a feeling of institutionalism. Along with this dazzling white set were two solitary actors sitting in chairs some distance apart from each other. Mother (played by Susie Dee) and Son (played by Angus Cereni) twist their necks to engage in awkward conversation and you start to get the feeling that this is not going to be another ordinary piece of theatre. Then the dialogue begins. Strong, rough and crude, the dialogue of Wretch holds no punches and its outright intensity alone is enough to leave you sitting on the edge of your seat for the duration of the performance We learn about each character and their strained and strange relationship with each other. Mum has the ‘loogy in her booby’ or Cancer and has to get it chopped off. The son, yearning for his mother’s womanhood back, kills for her. Now he is stuck in detention not knowing when he will get out. She comes to visit, albeit with good intentions, but in the process fill her son with torment and bitterness and reveals aspects of her past that he just doesn’t need to know. While at times throughout this performance, it is easy to get lost in some of the speech patterns and chronological order of events, you won’t lose interest in this aggressive, angry and violent boy/man and his somewhat ‘loose’ and ‘immoral’ mother who would sell his own boy’s ass if she thought she could get something out of it. To make the performance even more intense, if that is possible, the simple yet powerful lighting combined with an eerie soundscape (composed by Kelly Ryall) charged the air with each new cue. Although Susie Dee performed in this play, somehow she also managed to brilliantly (Angus Cerini co-directed Wretch) co-direct it in such a way that every facial expression and movement of both her and Cerini’s were evident, articulate and important. Whether the crimes committed by both Mother and Son were an accident or done with intent, this well written piece of theatre coupled with its excellent acting should make you want to get yourself down to La Mama Theatre to find out for yourself. Directed by Angus Cerini and Susie Dee Venue: La Mama Theatre | 205 Faraday Street, Carlton Dates: February 19 – March 8 Bookings: www.lamama.com.au

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.