A Moment on the Lips

2 Apr

Mackenzie Steele’s production of Jonathan Gavin’s A Moment on the Lips is both funny and moving. And the performances are brilliant.

Seven women deal with each other, and Life. And, boy, do they throw a lot at each other! All eight of ‘em.

I often feel alienated by theatre set in the here and now. (And this play is. Well, almost; it’s certainly set within the last decade.) I like a bit of distance. Give me Ancient Greece or Renaissance Europe or Nineteenth Century Russia. Hell, even contemporary America will do. Anything that helps me feel the play is not meant to represent the world I live in.

Beth Aubrey and Sarah Aubrey, photo by Katy Green Loughrey

Beth Aubrey and Sarah Aubrey, photo by Katy Green Loughrey

Because I’m not at home in the world of this play. I don’t share the values of the characters nor their attitudes to each other. Gavin’s script gives equal weight to seven different female characters and so feels like an attempted snap shot of female experience. I’m hardly the person to judge if it’s an accurate one, but I’m troubled by what’s implicit in the attempt – the assumption that it’s possible.

The play feels like a condensed TV series. Everyone has their issues, everyone gets their moment and BIG things happen at regular intervals – though most of them off stage. Actual stage time is dominated by nasty arguments. Throughout my twenties and thirties, I couldn’t watch TV drama because of its flat, confrontational representation of Life.

However, I suspect, many audience members will recognize themselves or people they know in this play. Last night I sat in the back row of a full house, and I don’t do that often enough in indie theatre.

And this production deserves to be seen for the extraordinary performances. Beth Aubrey, Sarah Aubrey, Lucy Goleby, Sabryna Te’o, Ainslie McGlynn, Claudia Barrie and Sonya Kerr do wonderful work. These seven captivating actors certainly create seven intriguing characters.

But it’s the eighth character who troubles me. It’s not that it’s difficult to characterise Life. I just don’t think we should try.

Veronica Kaye


A Moment on the Lips by Jonathan Gavin

Old Fitzroy Theatre, til April 12



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