Approximately 2pm August 31st 1997
Show type: Melbourne 2007
Do you remember where you were (almost ten years ago!) at 2pm on August 31st, 1997? It was the moment that Australia found out that Diana, Princess of Wales, had died in a car crash.
Marianne and Norman, a long-married, bed-death-suffering couple from the 'burbs, will never forget the moment they heard the news. It was a moment that, for them, brought skeletons out of Norman's back shed, in through the fly-strips on the kitchen door and slapped Marianne fair in the face of her Whirlpool frigidity.
Playwright Nik Willmottís previous work are My Life As A Dyke, My Life As A Dyke Too - The Shequel, and My Life As A Dyke 3 Ė More Tales From The Dyke Side.
So, itís something of a departure to find that Approximately 2pm August 31st 1997 features absolutely no lesbians. Quit the opposite, in fact, as itís about a long-term married couple.
Not happily married, mind. She is a fierce harridan, knocking back happy pills and booze for breakfast as she wastes her days with crosswords and fags. He is a pathetic, henpecked creature forever seeking solace from this marital misery in the sanctuary of his shed.
Theyíre one-dimensional characters, with Marianne relentlessly shrieking selfish, belittling commands and put-downs, which become increasingly grating on the ear, while Norman is a shell of a man, his soul long sucked dry.
The time of the title comes from the time in Australia when Princess Diana was fatally injured in Paris. The news of the crash, and subsequent death, somehow exposes the rift in Marianne and Normanís now-loveless marriage. She canít see how Dianaís death will change anyoneís life; he feels like heís lost the only friend he has left.
Thereís not a huge amount of comedy in this. The insults that flow between them are wearisome and itís only the extent of poor Normanís idolisation of the Princess that comes as even the slightest surprise, and even then itís not mined for anything but a couple of cheap laughs.
The actors do what they can with the limited script. Phil Roberts captures the resigned slouch of man whose dreams are long dead; while Joanne Davis has little to do but whine.
The programme handed out at the delightful La Mama fringe theatre explain this one-act play has been around for a few years in various incarnations. Why itís being revived now Ė and why, especially, as part of a comedy festival Ė is unclear.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melborune, April 2007