Chasing Pegasus - A Play In 10 Chords (VIC)
Marian Robson, Theatre Australia
(an initiative of the Independent Theatre Association)
October 20, 2006
As a director who has just commenced a years sabbatical,
I have begun making the effort to attend various fringe and independent
theatre productions, being interested to see what the emerging
generation of theatre practitioners are up to. Knowing that this
Incognita are a new independent theatre company on the Mornington
Peninsula (where I am currently staying with friends), I decided
to see for myself what their debut production was like and so
went along to see the show last night (Thursday) to see if the
production lived up to it's rather overt publicity campaign.
"Chasing Pegasus - a play in 10 chords" is a journey
through a myriad of examples of the human condition, neatly tied
up in the innocent-looking package of a weekly Book Club meeting.
Ten people are meeting at the Serendipity Book Shop to discuss
the bestseller "Chasing Pegasus". The various characters
include a deaf girl, a housewife, a paraplegic, two teenagers,
the book shop owner and her assistant, a high school teacher,
an ex-singer and the celebrated author whose work they're there
The play begins in the usual way - and is actually quite amusing,
which gives the false impression that we're about to enjoy a
fairly standard night of theatre in the comedy/drama vein.
But that quickly changes as the deaf girl suddenly breaks
into monologue - she begins it as if it's part of the dialogue,
and actually got a laugh with her first line, but then we begin
to realise that this is but one of the many clever directorial
touches that make this play so unique and so enjoyable.
Somehow the characters manage to begin their monologues without
us realising that they are. This is a great staging technique
as it keeps the play flowing from dialogue to monologue - there
is no indication that the individual characters are about to
speak to the audience - "breaking the fourth wall"
- they just suddenly start to speak to us and we're hooked from
their first sentence.
A neat parallel is therefore drawn between how these characters
show one face to the world and then show their true face to us,
the audience. The result is a highly engaging and, at times,
confronting, night of theatre that makes a strong statement about
what it is to be human.
The cast were all strong performers, playing their well-drawn
characters with truth and believability, but the standouts were
Charity Shaw ("Abby") - who spoke, signed and lip-read
so convincingly, I was surprised to discover that she wasn't
actually deaf, Sarah Penn ("Imelda") who found just
the right emotional balance required to tell a tragic story under
the influence of prescribed drugs - a tough call for any performer
- and yet remained delightfully vague throughout all the dialogue
sequences, Peter Flaherty ("Andrew") who played the
paraplegic character with great larrikinism and cheerfulness,
yet let us see the more vulnerable side of this condition towards
the end of his monologue, which truly broke your heart and Sally
McLean ("Katherine") who drew an achingly beautiful
and entirely convincing portrait of a woman in crisis and conflict,
caught between her love for and abject fear of a brutal husband.
Another standout was Jennifer Hansen (previously known to
audiences as Newsreader for Channel 10), who played the author
"Franklin" with great grace, strength and passion.
Her final monologue was delivered with such truth and conviction
that I wanted to stand and cheer at the end.
The extremely well-written script was ably backed by excellent
lighting and sound and the set and props were well designed and
utilised with great attention to detail. Mt Martha House is ideally
suited to this production - creating an intimate theatre space
with great atmosphere - which made you feel like you were actually
part of the action and pulled you into the stories being told.
Written and directed by Sally McLean, "Chasing Pegasus
- a play in 10 chords" is an engaging, beautifully written
and staged night of theatre that doesn't disappoint. It is well
worth the (very reasonable) ticket price and the cast and production
team should be very proud of their work. The production I saw
last evening would very ably hold it's own on any of our professional
stages and I look forward to seeing more from this innovative
[See the review on the Theatre Australia website by clicking here.]
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