A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Marg Downey's directorial debut does her proud
Well known Australian comedian Marg Downey made a successful stage directorial debut in last night's opening night and world premiere of Lottie in the Late Afternoon.
Lottie is written by award-winning Australian playwright Amelia Roper, who now resides in LA. The talented Roper, as well as having a decent repertoire of published plays to her name, works on the Netflix/Jenji Kohan show GLOW.
The cast in Lottie in the Late Afternoon. From left to right: Clara (Michala Banas), Ryan (Linc Hasler), Lottie (Laura Maitland) and Anne (Ally Fowler).
Lottie tells the story of four people who gather in a house in New England (USA) for a weekend away. The story develops at a gentle pace, the better for allowing character development. The first characters to grace the stage are the eponymous Lottie (Laura Maitland) and her husband, Ryan (Linc Hasler). They arrive at their weekender and start to look around, initially unsettled by the fact the house is unlocked.
Soon after, the couple is joined by Lottie's best friend, Clara (Michala Banas). Another couple is expected, but through a phone call, the trio learns that they are no longer coming, as one of them - Anne - is in hospital. Clara is particularly disappointed by this, as (it turns out) she has feelings for Anne. Lottie is disappointed at Clara's disappointment because she feels Clara should want to be there just to be spending time with her (Lottie).
The dynamic shifts again when Anne (Ally Fowler) unexpectedly arrives at the house.
Anne (Ally Fowler)
And so the play progresses, taking the audience through this group's weekend at the beach house; from the minutiae of their daily routines to the complex twists and turns in their relationships.
The characterisation of the four has been brilliantly scripted, and there have also been outstanding casting selections, giving this play life and lightness and humour. Over the course of two hours, I felt like I got to know these characters.
There were particularly strong performances from Laura Maitland as Lottie and Michala Banas, but I didn't feel there were any weak spots in this production. Maitland (who has guest starred in The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Neighbours and Underbelly) achieved just the right balance of ditziness and New York neuroticism, while at the same time projecting a level of simpering loveliness, desperate to make sure everyone is having a good time.
Lottie (Laura Maitland)
Banas (whom readers will know from roles in Upper Middle Bogan, McLeods Daughters and Winners and Losers) takes her character on a convincing roller coaster ride of emotions, fuelled by a large quantity of white wine.
Clara (Michala Banas)
Listening to the post-performance speeches, the common themes were that this production has been put together 'on the smell of an oily rag'. It's clearly been a team effort, with an 'all hands to the pumps' attitude and a lot of determination that has got this production to the stage. Perhaps that level of teamwork has injected an extra degree of cohesion into this performance.
This is a quality production, a thoroughly entertaining two hours of theatre, and highly recommended. There were witty, laugh-out-loud one-liners throughout, the delivery spot-on from this strong cast.
The storyline has just enough of an overlay of silliness to make it clear it's not taking itself too seriously.
Lottie in the Late Afternoon plays at fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Street, Melbourne until Sunday 30th September.
Tickets are $35 - $45. Click here to buy tickets online.