No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Tahli Corin

AdlFringe Review: One for the Ugly Girls

This review contains significant spoilers. 

Playwright Tahli Corin is one on a long list of Adelaide playwrights moved interstate. It is all too rare to see plays by these writers in Adelaide: second-hand reports come in from Sydney, a few will travel to see it and come back, but the reasons they leave are certainly evident. No less than three ex-South Australian playwrights have works debuting at Griffin Theatre in Sydney this year, including Corin, and it is wonderful to see ONFG giving One for the Ugly Girls its Adelaide premiere, directed here by Adriana Bonaccurso.

Alistair (Syd Brisbane) is an artist whose work hangs in the National Gallery. Suffering from a block in his work resulting from his wife’s death, he hires life model Jade (Lori Bell) for inspiration. When Jade arrives, though, she doesn’t match the picture of what he had in his head – or of the image that was posted on the website. After an initial conflict, the two settle into an antagonistic relationship: each pushing each other’s comfort and buttons, until Jade manages to show Alistair a way back into his art.

The audience soon learn that this Jade isn’t the model from the website at all, and eventually with the appearance of the real Jade (Hannah Norris), the first woman is revealed to be Claire, her step-sister. Out with the old and in with the new, as Alistair replaces the raw and contentious Claire with the shiny veneer of Jade.

There is a slight clumsiness to this turning point in the production which neither Corin nor Bonaccurso have managed to resolve. As an audience, we have been given no hints as to how much Alistair himself knew about the manipulation, nor why he was so happy to go along with it for so long. Was it a simple case of loneliness, of the simple energy that is generated their fights? But then why is he so fickle as to replace one with the other so quickly?

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Brief: Can You Be A Playwright In Adelaide?

In early December I started to write a post about being a playwright in South Australia. Caleb Lewis, Kit Brookman, Tahli Corin, Duncan Graham, Finegan Kruckemeyer, and now Phillip Kavanagh are people who immediately spring to mind as having left this state in recent years (or weeks, as it may be).  I stopped writing mainly because I thought the answer to my question was just “no”, and left it there.

But today on the National Play Festival website, in an interview with Sydney raised, SA based playwright Nicki Bloom, a similar question came up:

Adelaide is a great cultural producer, what is it like working in a city that is outside of the traditional cultural hubs of Sydney and Melbourne?

These days (back to that postmodern, globalised society you spoke of) where you live has less of an impact on where you work. Sure, there’s still plenty of state-based parochialism, but I’ve worked as much in Sydney as I have in Adelaide, and have as broad networks in cities around the world as I do in Adelaide. I think that’s the same for most playwrights these days.

So, should the question be: can you be a playwright in Adelaide as long as you’re working elsewhere?  I believe Bloom’s Land & Sea is the only text-based theatre work by a South Australian playwright presented by a fully funded company in SA in 2012.  I don’t think this statistic would prove to be unusual.