To Thine Own Self Be True | Theatre Review

Managing Carmen by David Williamson

The Guild Theatre Walz Street, Rockdale

How can we ever be happy if we are not true to ourselves?

True to who we want to be, who we enjoy being and who we would relax into self-fulfilment with?

If we had the adulation of an adoring public, over-arching success in our dream career and enormous wealth, would cynicism, aloofness and a disconnect with those around us dog us?

Famous footballer, Brent's, problem is compounded by his fame. He is an incredibly talented AFL player who is acclaimed for his prowess on the field and admired for the glamorous life he is reported to have. No one suspects that he nurses an incongruous peccadillo, that once exposed, could threaten his career.

The Guild Theatre tells us that David Williamson wrote the Managing Carmen, 'as a protest about the lives of AFL players and the game itself and as a plea for the tolerance of diversity.'

Williamson's enormous talent brings to bear such hefty social issues with a light touch: we are too overtaken with laughter to realise we are being taught with a modern-day parable.

He incites personal courage to live beyond others' expectations calling for bravery to be who we are, and appeals to our society to accept the difference in others that we may not understand.

Russell Godwin brings a sensitivity to Brent whose private persona is both vulnerable and aloof. His transformation in the hands of psychologist Jessica (Donna Randall) is organic and believable.

Brent is the money making prop of his agent, Rohan, played with oozing smarm by David Hines, and the target of maligning sports journalist, Max (Chad Smith), who actively searches for shears to cut down this tall poppy.

The strong supporting cast is rounded out with Clara (Caitlin Gleeson), Brent's opportunistic girlfriend.

The Guild Theatre's is an ambitious production with the integration of filmed shorts and live theatre

The Guild Theatre's is an ambitious production with the integration of filmed shorts and live theatre.

It makes effective use of multimedia techniques to create the sense of excitement that comes with celebrity and also to build the larger than life public persona that is suffocating AFL star, Brent.

By swaying focus between the large screen and stage performers, a sense of the two lives Brent lives is highlighted but also how he is ever watched and scrutinised.

James Searle's set maintains a nebulous space with token furnishings and on-point lighting to carry the flow of this play of short scenes and quick changes.

Director Chris Searle has stitched together a lot of quick and pithy segments with seamless ease. She also makes good use of sight gags with her able cast.

The Guild Theatre's Managing Carmen is a big show, with big laughs and a big message, now showing until June 8.

For bookings call 9520 7364 or online