On Friday night my partner and I battled city traffic and some questionable navigation to make our way to the opening night of The Honeytrap’s The Mistakes Madeline Made. (You can check out our interview with them here.) I almost wish it were enough for me to just write “Go and see this play”, leave it at that, walk off satisfied that you are already booking your tickets and zipping to the beautiful Abbotsford Convent as fast as you can. Because you NEED to see this production. So let’s just get that point out of the way. Once more, you NEED to see this play.
The Mistakes Madeline Made centres on Edna – angry and alienated after the death of her war-correspondent brother Buddy. Finding herself in a mundane office job catering to the trivial needs of a wealthy family, Edna develops a passionate hatred towards her boss, the neurotic Beth, stops bathing (her bathroom is haunted by her brother), seeks out writers for one-night-stands in an attempt to “fuck her brother back to life”, and begins to slowly and vengefully unravel.
The show is achingly raw and sometimes shocking (you’ll walk out feeling like you’ve been punched in the guts and needing a good cry) but also just very funny. While tackling some very confronting content, The Mistakes Madeline Made intimately threads these moments with a swirl of both dark and sweet humour that manages to deepen the confronting material, rather than distracting from it. The cast delivers some extraordinary performances that convey a deep understanding of their character. Each character is strikingly different and the friction between them is portrayed so effectively that you can feel the discomfort and frustration seeping from the stage throughout the room. The audience is steered through Edna’s decaying hold on her emotional state through a blend of soliloquy, antagonising and awkward interactions with her co-workers, and the pleading conversations with her brother as he refuses to leave her bathtub.
Celeste Markwell is phenomenal as Edna, with pinpoint comic timing and a crushing expression of Edna’s day-to-day struggle with her loss. Loren de Jong’s excellent portrayal of the uptight Beth is clever, managing to convey a comically aggravating individual but at the same time revealing a side that calls for sympathy. Liam O’Kane is charming as the brilliant, bumbling Wilson providing a sincere softness against the darker Edna and stern Beth. James Deeth (Buddy) and Josh Futcher (Jake/Blake/Drake) both showed strong performances, with a special mention to Deeth during the chilling scene where the full extent of Buddy’s post-traumatic stress is vocalised.
All in all, I enjoyed this production so much that I’ve recommended it to anyone who will listen. Also, try the mulled wine.
The Honeytrap: Kasey Gambling, Loren de Jong, Celeste Markwell, Joanne Redfearn and Debbie Zukerman
Starring: Celeste Markwell (Edna), Loren de Jong (Beth), Liam O’Kane (Wilson), James Deeth (Buddy) and Josh Futcher (Jake/Blake/Drake)
Director: Debbie Zukerman
The Mistakes Madeline Made (written by Elizabeth Meriwether)
St Heliers Street, Abbotsford VIC 3067
August 23- September 8, 2013
Full $27, Conc. $19, Groups (of six) $19