After an extended season featuring the highly acclaimed, and newly Australian, actress Miriam Margolyes, it is no surprise that the State Theatre of South Australia's Neighbourhood Watch was a sold out success. It was a shock, however, to discover that the production wasn't actually enjoyable or meaningful to its audiences. From the creative mind of Lally Katz comes a play that fails to draw out the dramatic potential of its plot. With three cancers, a suicide, a mass murderer, mental illness, two marriages and two young loves, Neighbourhood Watch should've been bursting at the seams with interesting storylines and themes. With stilted dialogue, a mishmash of fragment scenes, and inconsistent thematic features, many audience members walked away saying, 'Well, Miriam Margolyes was fantastic. But what a shame...'
Why the State Theatre Company of SA would choose that play, we may never know. The set was stunning. As were the lighting and costumes. The acting was all-round impressive, with perhaps the exception of main character, Catherine (Megan Holloway); the 20-something young girl to whom Ana, Miriam 80 year old Hungarian-Australian widow, reaches out. Perhaps Holloway can be excused for an experience gap between herself, a recent NIDA graduate, and the BAFTA award winning actress. But it does little to sate an audience who, expecting a first class performance, actually encountered a disappointing taste of what the company could have produced.