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The Confabulator

Home > Brisbane > Performing Arts | Indoor | Community Theatre | Theatre | Theatre Reviews
by Kiesten McCauley (subscribe)
My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for theatre, comedy and impro shows. Now I'm a professional creative person. Mostly high-end branding, strategy, writing, editing and digital content creation.
Event: -
Matilda Award Winner’s Brilliant New Show
confabulator, theatre, show, live, helen, O'Leary, buck, buckingham
The Confabulator is now playing at the Wooloongabba Art Gallery

If you've ever had a loved one touched by dementia, you'll know how hard it can be to see them suffering. That painful experience is explored beautifully by the talented Helen O'Leary in this brave solo performance. The Confabulator, playing at the Woolongabba Art Gallery, sees Helen show her great variety and range as an actress as she makes the tough job of transitioning between a multitude of characters appear effortless. Snatches of conversations between a mother and daughter are interspersed with characterisations of parts of the dementia-affected brain, doctors and scientists.

The script, penned by O'Leary, is intelligent and poetic. The text is rich with metaphor and a clear love of language. The characters are diverse and engaging. Helen plays each so believably. She has great focus and conviction. She confidently powers through difficult dialogue. There's a lovely balance heartwarming, humorous and horrible.

helen, o'leary, confabulator, play, theatre, show, brisbane, wooloongabba
Helen O'Leary acts from the heart in this deeply personal show

Helen's writing and performing is even more impressive when you consider the work is directly based on her own experience. As her sister and renowned actress Christen O'Leary comments in the 'Responding Artist' notes in the program, "Helen began to create the work two years ago, as a private and personal honouring of our mother as she battled dementia." The control shown by Helen in performing a work that has to be so personally emotionally harrowing is jaw-dropping.

The performance takes place upstairs at the gallery in a space that's been creatively and artistically designed by Buck Buckingham. He's built in plenty of levels and areas for Helen to play. The metal swing hung from the ceiling is a delightful addition, especially with the lighting effect that occurs toward the end of the play. He's also cleverly used elements of the gallery that usually support artworks to hold props and costumes. Buck's lighting is used very effectively to create mood and transition from scene to scene. Music by Andrew McNaughton also enhances the emotions of the work.

This is moving and intelligent theatre that discusses an issue that doesn't get nearly enough attention. Performances run until August 3rd, though you should get in quickly as tickets are almost all sold out.

helen, o'leary, confabulator, play, theatre, show, brisbane, wooloongabba
Swing in to see The Confabulator

written and performed by HELEN O'LEARY




Performance: 7:00pm – WAG (UPSTAIRS)


Performance: Early show 6:00pm – WAG (UPSTAIRS)

The Box Office is located at the bottom of the stairs at WAG Ground Level and opens an hour before the performance

Approximately 60 minutes with no interval. Latecomers will be admitted at an appropriate break in the performance

This production contains the use of herbal cigarettes and smoke effects

There is a bar onsite at WAG Ground Level for drink purchases pre and post show
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Why? See some excellent acting
When: 31 July to 3 August
Where: Woolloongabba Art Gallery, 613 Stanley St, Woolloongabba QLD 4102
Cost: $25
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