Lachlan Philpott’s joyous new play is about an old woman who realises becoming a DJ is perhaps the best thing she’s ever done.
Donning a pair of diamante headphones somewhat late in life, her time on the planet has had its twists and turns, its beautiful bright moments. And now in her seventies, she finds she’s happiest spinning in dimly lit spaces.
The spirit of British born Ruth Flowers, aka Mamy Rock, who sadly passed on last month, is said to have inspired this piece. Our main protagonist, Mabel Mudge (Valerie Bader), is a lower middle class granny from Bankstown. She serves milky tea with arrowroot biscuits to guests and she also owns an enviable vinyl collection. Given the opportunity, this pensioner will find the determination not to age gracefully. Her love for her 17 year old granddaughter Tracey (Clementine Mills), and her journey to find her, leads to an epic adventure which takes her to the other side of the world and defying expectations, she becomes a silver-haired superstar.
Philpott is a distinctive writer and his work bears the unmistakable stamp of his humanity. This almost has the feel of a modern fairytale. It is mostly narrated by Tracey, a clubber, who’s not too sure yet where she fits in. Finishing high school she half heartedly plans to begin a nursing degree. Before hitting the books, she takes her first overseas holiday, putting a hemisphere between herself and her tightly wound mother, Kerry (a very funny Joshua Brennan). On a side trip to Berlin, she discovers musical diversity and a sense of freedom and abruptly drops off the radar.
Fittingly, the DJ booth is the intended focus of attention on Adrienn Lord’s set, with an elegant Jonny Seymour (DJ & sound designer), head to toe in white, onstage for the duration. Seymour’s design is always sonically interesting without over complicating things.
That said, the beating heart of this production is the wonderful performance given by Bader. Mills is also excellent. Along with the aforementioned Brennan, Madeleine Jones and Brandon McClelland (all the younger actors are making their STC debut) act as a chorus and deftly play their way through a multitude of characters.
M.Rock plays at theSydney Theatre Company and ATYP, Wharf 2 Until 28 June
Bookings: 02 9250 1777 or www.sydneytheatre.com.au