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softly, surely : evocative theatre

Yannick Lawry & Zoe Crawford

The technique of interconnected storylines has long been used by playwrights, novelists and screenwriters and has proved very popular. This is the path that esteemed and prolific Sydney playwright Paul Gilchrist, together with his wife Daniela Giorgi, have taken with his new play, SOFTLY, SURELY which is currently having a season at Marrickville’s appropriately named Flight Path Theatre. My God, how brave and well actors do, performing at this venue. All kudos to them.

The first scene is an attention grabbing, audacious one. Claudia Shnier as Carla is at the centre of the stage. There is a  massage table next to her. She takes off her knickers, lies down on the massage table, facing opposite the audience, and spreads her legs apart.

No, we are not witnessing pornographic theatre. What is happening is that she is going through a pap smear procedure with her gyno. We hear her admonishments at the Doctor for the pain she is encountering as well as some wisecracking. We also hear of her growing up in an Italian family and the struggles of the family to assimilate into Australian culture.

The play then moves us to the home of Carla’s gynecologist, Mike and his wife Melissa. Mike, simply put, is not a likable man. He is depicted as a Doctor with no time for his wife. All there is to obnoxious Mike is his work and his obsession with building a property portfolio. Yannick Lowry gives a good performance in the role.

As does Zoe Carwford as his despairing wife Melissa who knows that her marriage has become soulless. Melissa is playful with him and their interactions are sort of funny but more sad.

Our focus is then turned the way of Mike’s mum Alice. She is a stroke survivor with the stroke having lasting effects on her mobility and cognitive agility. This, however, doesn’t affect, at all, her strong social conscience and her wanting to change the injustices in the world. Abi Rayment gives a wonderful performance in the role.

On we move to Rosie Meader as Maddie, Alice’s carer and budding actress. Alice is more than a little off-hand with Alice. She is a bit of a self centered soul and is intent on forging her career. Her single-mindedness is a little comical. Rosie gives a good performance. 

An added, substantial touch to the play is the bookending of the play, and the framing of its scenes, with the cast appearing as a chorus singing folk songs. This was interesting. Music, indeed, was a big theme in the play, in all respects.  At one time, Mike talks about his theories of what makes music so great.

Paul Gilchrist’s direction was assured.

This was evocative theatre which I enjoyed. My only caveat was that I found it a little obtuse, at times. The set of littered paper around the stage left me feeling perplexed. I, no doubt, assume that sharper minds than mine would have ‘got it’ straight away.

SOFTLY, SURELY, playing as part of this year’s Sydney Fringe Festival, is playing the Flight Path Theatre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville until September 10, 2022. The theatre is located just on the left hand side as you drive into the Addison Road Community Centre.








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