Dunstan Playhouse, Tuesday, May 5
Miriam Margolyes delivers a performance to behold in Lally Katz’ Neighbourhood Watch.
On a simple streetscape set, think an uber-minimal version of Edward Scissorhands-like suburbia, two housemates begin a new day, which has extra meaning as it’s Kevin07 Day, the morning after Labor swept to power seven years ago and like New Labour’s ol’ Blighty victory a decade before, promised so much. Catherine (Eleanor Stankiewicz) is a semi-reclusive out of work actress living with her screenwriter wannabe housemate Ken (James Smith), who spends most of his days coordinating raids with his online World of Warcraft community while hassling Catherine to watch The West Wing, this is 2007 after all. The simple set effortlessly transforms from streetscape to interiors with its eclectic bunch of characters shining on the minimal set. But no character captures your attention like Ana, a stern but loveable 80-year-old widow, wonderfully played by Miriam Margolyes. Catherine and Ana meet in the street and develop a friendship after the older woman pays Catherine to complete some housework for her. The opposing personalities connect as the audience enjoys this odd couple pairing which is a delight to watch unfold during the first half – especially Margolyes as Ana. With a never-ending stream of unforgettable one-liners, the abrasive yet highly amusing Hungarian-Australian character is a dream role for any actress, but in the hands of a talent such as Margolyes, Ana is a marvel. She is not a caricature; she has depth (especially when her back-story is revealed) and Margolyes accent never falters. She is wonderful. Though the second half drags with some unnecessary scenes – and a couple of flat characters in the young housemates – Neighbourhood Watch is nevertheless a black comedy that will delight any theatre lover. Plus, it serves as a reminder that you should get to know your neighbours, no matter how quirky they seem. Neighbourhood Watch continues until Saturday, May 24 statetheatrecompany.com.au Photographer: Shane Reid