Make a date with community theatre and you’re in for a great night out. OutInCanberra columnist Dora Gillett recently took in a show – and she’ll definitely be back for more.
Paper Cuts was a lot of fun to watch, and I suspect it’s a lot of fun to act in as well. The show presented Kirsty Budding’s new selection of monologues for actors – the kind you’d use for an audition or an assessment piece – performed by actors who fit the roles like a glove. Set in Canberra Theatre Centre’s tiny Courtyard Studio, this is community theatre as it should be.
My favourite thing about Paper Cuts was the diversity of voices it puts on show. It elevates some narratives that aren’t widely heard from. Particularly of note is the engaging way in which middle-aged and elderly people’s stories are told. A favourite of mine was Gertrude’s Sweetheart, performed by the pitch-perfect Phillip Mackenzie: it’s refreshing to see a love story recounted, not by a strapping youth, but by a blushing elderly man.
This show delighted in subverting stereotypes with a dash of humour but also with respect: there’s a young woman who’s the only girl in the office that doesn’t like babies (until she realises none of them do), a grandmother whose children shower her with all the latest gadgets (but she doesn’t want a single one), and a CEO whose sky-high expectations of his staff give way to a more laissez-faire approach under pressure. Just when you think you’ve worked out the show’s schtick, though, there will be a solemn, true-to-heart piece that stops you in your tracks.
The writing is strong and always disconcertingly observant: a modern-day Jane Austen tells the room, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young lady wondering whether to break up with her boyfriend, will Google it’. (First uni romances: I see you.)
The last vignette, Things I Hate, is pure observation: a man reads a list of things he hates, and what could be a cloying or boring scene is instead a fiendishly accurate list of our pet peeves, kicking off with, ‘I hate when you’re in a car park and you think you see a car spot, but it turns out there’s a small car there’.
If you’re thinking of taking in a show at Canberra Theatre Centre, bring some cash for wine and Maltesers at the bar during the intermission.