Tag Archives: Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

16 Mar

It’s natural to assume, that as a theatre reviewer, I’d relate to a story about failed artists.

David Williamson’s Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica, directed by Mark Kilmurry, is a light two-hander, a gleeful rom-com, performed with comic expertise by Georgie Parker and Glenn Hazeldine.

It’s a simple tale of the need to be open-minded. (If you’re thinking No, not that again; I’ve had it up to here with that I salute your obtusity.)

Monica can no longer perform with the Sydney Symphony; tendonitis has robbed her of the ability to play the violin.

Her life is one of rage and renovations; rage at the injustice of a career cut short and renovations ….well, just renovations. She’s getting her kitchen done.

Gary does kitchens. He used to play country. Think Golden Guitar. And there’s nothing that makes you appreciate country music’s perpetual paean to loss more than installing kitchens when you were meant to be playing Tamworth.

Does this make them a pair of failed artists? Sort of. The true failure lies elsewhere. Apart from kitchen quibbles, their source of tension is the refusal to accept the other’s taste in music. She loves Mahler and Shostakovich; he loves Cline and Parton. In comic shorthand, she’s a snob, he’s a philistine. Narrow mindedness, of both types, has long been a source of laughter, and with it Williamson and these two wonderful actors make hay. Not that I’m suggesting with my rural reference that the play favours the unsophisticated – but it certainly makes a space for the sort of thing it is itself: unashamedly simple fun.

Before getting back to that failure thing, I’ll mention one scene in particular. The pair are out together for the first time. They’re at a pub in Glebe. Is it a date? Confronted by the possibilities the evening offers, Monica has drunk too much before Gary has even arrived. Is this a door opening or closing? It’s brilliant comic work from both Parker and Hazeldine, a spotlight on human ambiguity, an acknowledgement of multiplicities (which belies my earlier assertion about the play’s simplicity.)

And what is artistic failure – and we’re all artists – but the failure to say Maybe this too?

Paul Gilchrist

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica by David Williamson

Ensemble Theatre until 29 April


Image by Prudence Upton