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Review: Boutique Theatre Double Bill – Madame Bast & Don’t Tell The Women


From 23 March – 2 April 2016 Boutique Theatre put on a double bill at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute, this double bill featured the works, Madame Bast written by Mathew snin and Don’t Tell The Women written by Samantha Cunningham.

Madame Bast played by Angelique Malcolm, a middle class woman and mother working on the side as a physic. She seems to have a reputation for being a bit strange, but people seem to find her amusing. Three friends, Jaz played by Seon Williams, Sabrina played by Charlotte Fox and Casey played by Maty Young go to see her as a joke, Jas is very sassy and sceptic, Casey is pretty neutral and open to the experience, hoping to get a funny story out of it and Sabrina is terrified. During their session Madam Bast is possessed by people that have died in their lives and they all become quite scared, Jaz is particularly scared because Madam Bast becomes possessed by a girl in her year level that committed suicide. The rest of the play is centred around Jaz dealing with the aftermath of the session with Madam Bast and finding peace with her past.

This piece was made of many different parts, mostly it had naturalistic scenes of the friends in various places, like a university of in their living room, but dispersed amongst the scenes were shadow puppets, monologues from Madam Bast about Egypt and stylised non naturalistic scenes, I found the interjection of monologues and puppets, and non naturalism quite distracting form the plot and it left me feeling detached from the characters, I was unsure of the significance of these elements. I felt this piece didn’t know what genre it wanted to be in with all the different elements, I feel it would have benefited from choosing one genre or form and sticking to it, I felt the script and the story were strong enough with out the shadow puppets and monologues to stand on its own, but unfortunately I was unable to connect with this show because of all the seemingly random mish-mash elements.

Don’t Tell The Women was a very different piece from Madame Bast. This play was written by Samantha Cunningham, it is based over one night in a bar with three strangers playing pool and drinking Morgan played by Jason Schwab. Dean played by Sam Lavery and Mathew played by Mischa Grunenberg and a nameless the bar woman but I saw in the program she was named “she” played by Jess Stengleins. The three men all talk about their heartache and problems with the women in their lives while “she” listens in the background. Throughout the night more and more secrets are revealed about the men. At first I was very confused and kind of angry that this play was about. I seemed like it was just men talking about women, with one female in the show that had very little lines, but after thinking about it more, I think they were trying to subvert and challenge the idea of men in plays movies, tv shows and music talking about women and perceiving them as crazy and one dimensional, this was only clear through Jess Stengleins stunning, powerful performance as SHE, although she didn’t have many lines, with the little voice that she got she said a lot. Perri Cummings direction was very solid and consistent and the performers worked very well as an ensemble. The Set and costume design was simple, naturalistic and effective.

Madam Bast and Don’t Tell The Women were part of Boutique theatres double bill at The Mechanics Institute Brunswick.

Review written by Ebony Beaton