Thursday, May 04, 2017

Miss Blossom Callahan, 2017, Review

Miss Blossom Callahan

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

Actor and playwright Stephen House returns to the iconic La Mama theatre, this time as director of one of his own works, Miss Blossom Callahan. During post show drinks and discussion, I overheard Mr House ask wryly, “Can you tell that this is one of my works?”

Oh yes, yes you can.

Miss Blossom is a dark comedy following the story of aged hooker Blossom (Rosemary Johns), her alcoholic one night stand Max (Marc Opitz), landlord Geraldine (Ruth Katerelos) and a local petty crim/drug dealer/junkie Junk (Will Ewing). The story starts out on a bleak, hungover morning, and as the sun rises reluctantly into the sky and the rain falls, things get even bleaker.

Which is not to say that this isn't a wonderfully engaging play; it is a totally wonderfully engaging play. These characters are probably so foreign to the average person able to afford the luxury of a theatre ticket as to be grimily exotic. In real life we catch glimpses of them in the street from time to time, but we never fully see their existence. We might see them nodding off in a park, eyes rolling back in their head or we might see them screaming intoxicated abuse at each other, but it's all so fleeting for us. What else goes on in the rest of their days and their weeks and their lives that are as long as our lives? How does their life pan out? What are the minutes and hours of their days actually like?

This is the magic of Stephen House's writing. He gives a voice to the marginalised ones who don't have a voice, who are mostly invisible to us. He gives them their voice to tell their story, and lemme tell you, it's authentic stuff.

The story of Blossom's life is a tragedy that unfolds through the telling of her dreams and fantasies, a life spent dreaming of possibilities and possibilities. Her head lives in the most colourful of dreams even as she wakes in the filthiest gutter, sleeping with so many rats.

And all are rats in Blossom's story. All are addicted to drugs and booze or some other need. Everyone's need dictates their loyalty. Betrayal is a means to an end. It's every man for himself in this world, baby.

It's fair to say that it is a black comedy, though I doubt you'll hear much real laughter during the performance. There probably won't be much of the raucous stuff, but that's because it is all so very real. It's more a kind of slow, head-shaking laugh. But trust me, you will laugh.

And with any luck, once you are back in your nice comfortable world, maybe when you catch a glimpse of Blossom Callahan and her cohorts, you might give them some thought. This is not a play suggesting a solution to a problem, more, it is an expose of lives less fortunate than yours or mine, so engagingly written and so perfectly performed.

On at La Mama in Carlton until May 14

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