The Les Robinson Story and Belle of the Cross

25 Nov

Double bills are intriguing things. Two works that were created independently are suddenly placed together, resonating in unforeseen ways.

This is not a bad thing. To complain about it would be the equivalent of complaining about friendship. In friendship we become different. Our friends draw out certain of our qualities and suppress others.  In fact, it could be asked, what are we before friendship, or indeed before any of our relationships? How much sense does it really make to talk of our own self, independent of the world? Where would this self exist?

‘Oh, if only he/she/they knew the real me.’

The ‘real me’ is a fabrication.

Both of the plays in this double bill are (in essence) one-person shows about a person; which is what started me thinking about the above issue.

Photo by Katy Green Loughrey

Photo by Katy Green Loughrey

The Les Robinson Story written by Kieran Carroll and directed by Ron Hadley tells the story of one of Sydney’s iconic story tellers. I’d never heard of him.

Apparently, Les wrote prose in the modernist style, lived in caves, and was under-appreciated by the Great World. The first two aspects make him a character (more on this in a moment) and the last grants him universal appeal. Hasn’t everyone, at sometime, felt they’re under-appreciated? ‘If only they knew the real me.’

When I say Les is a character, I don’t mean the performance by Martin Portus isn’t rich or subtle. Rather what’s offered to us by this play is Les’ difference; how he was different from his world, and from ours. It’s nostalgic and sentimental, and many people will warm to it.

Belle of the Cross written by Angelika Fremd and directed by David Richie presents us with a woman slipping into homelessness. Gertraud Ingeborg’s performance is moving and engaging. Belle’s situation is not easy. She didn’t choose it. And, so we’re told, she dies without anyone knowing who she really was…….

Photo by Katy Green Loughrey

Photo by Katy Green Loughrey

This idea begins the play and ends it.

The beauty of this piece, and what resonates so magically and thought-provokingly with the first of the double bill, is this:

The second time* we’re told that Belle died unknown, we’re asked ‘Who hasn’t? Who won’t?’ And Ingeborg poses the question with a magnificent and mischievous twinkle in her eye, one encompassing both the pity and the glory of the human condition.

Veronica Kaye


The Les Robinson Story by Kieran Carroll

Belle of the Cross by Angelika Fremd

at The Old Fitz, until 29 Nov


* Apologies to Angelika Fremd for a quote which is probably a paraphrasing, and hopefully not wildly inaccurate.


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