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mother clap’s molly house @ the new

Pics by Bob Seary
Pics by Bob Seary

I had a quick bite before seeing MOTHER CLAP’S MOLLY HOUSE in Newtown last night, and the meal was, sadly, disappointing. The best I could say for it was that it was warm and filling. Unfortunately, on a scale of one to fabulous, MOTHER CLAP’S MOLLY HOUSE, a play with songs by Mark Ravenhill and music by Matthew Scott, didn’t even get to warm and filling. Much too long, uninspired writing and equally mundane musical numbers and choreography made this promising play a bit of a dud.

When Mrs Tull’s husband dies and she is left in charge of their dress hire shop, she overcomes her self-doubt to continue on with business as usual. Business is conducted with the local whores, but looks to go downhill almost immediately, until she finds her apprentice Martin and some other blokes playing dress-ups in the skirts. She quickly realises that she can still make a buck, setting up a male brothel, the Molly House of the title.

After interval, the commodification of sex travels from Molly house days through to modern London in Act Two. This Act is set for the most part in contemporary London, in a flat where a gay orgy is about to commence. The play certainly salutes all forms of human sexuality, but it does so in a way that is less farcical and more sharp than it needs to be.  One scene is reminiscent of Deliverance, in all its pig squealing glory. The few subtleties that existed in the first act fly out the window in this Act. Suffice it to say, we don’t need to see the gleet on the sheets to get the drift. Ironically the second half has a much more moralistic tone, while Act One exhibits an amazing tolerance towards different choices.

The actors all perform with gusto, but my favourite was the relatively low key Steve Corner as Princess Serafina, who begins an unlikely romance with Mother Clap. Bradley Bulger deserves a special mention: he was funny as Eros, he acted the slightly superfluous part like an evil, horny Cupid.

Cast: Debra Bryan, Bradley Bulger, Stephanie Begg, Steve Corner, Andrew Grogan, Patrick Howard, Deborah Jones, Chantel Leseberg, Tess Marshall, Brendan Miles, Thomas Pidd, Garth Saville, Dave Todd.

Creative Team: Louise Fischer- director, Trent Kidd- Choreographer, Bethany Sheehan- Set Design, Famke Visser- Costume Designer, Tegan Nicholls- Sound Designer, Andrew Weston- Lighting Designer, Pianist- Lord Lovaduck, Vocal Coach- Helen Tonkin.

A Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2015 event, MOTHER CLAP’S MOLLY HOUSE is playing the New Theatre until the 7th March.

This review was originally published on Joy Minter’s website- http://www.thebuzzfromsydney.com.

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