Theatre review: HYSTERICA

I’m popping out a couple of extra posts this month as Melbourne Fringe is on and we all need to get out and support the performing arts in Melbourne…go on…

Women have always made history in equal measure to men, but with only about 0.5% of them traditionally appearing on the historical records, their contributions were often forgotten – that is until women started to rewrite the records…

In Melbourne Fringe show, HYSTERICA, actors Tess Parker and Mary Steuten deliver a piece of historical revisionism through monologue to tell the stories of four extraordinary women – Alice Anderson, business woman, garage proprietor and motor mechanic (1897-1926); Joy Hester, artist and member of the Angry Penguins movement and the Heidi Circle integral to the development of Australian Modernism (1920-1960); Elizabeth Gould (1804-1841), botanical artist and illustrator, much of whose work is believed to have been attributed to her husband naturalist and author John Gould (sigh); and the more contemporary story of Dawn Faizey-Webster who developed locked in syndrome after suffering a brainstem stroke that left her only able to communicate by blinking her left eye. Faizey-Webster still went on to complete a degree, a Masters and commence a doctorate.

Despite challenges with the shows lighting (the lighting deck got drenched in yesterdays downpour so the actors had to work under fluorescent strip lighting to avoid electrocuting anyone), Parker and Steuten put on thought-provoking performances that made me want to find out more about the characters they inhabited. Tess Parker’s portraits of Alice Anderson and Elizabeth Gould were particularly expressive and engaging.

HYSTERICA is showing at Theatre Works new venue, the Explosives Factory which is down a back alley and up a flight of stairs into a warehouse space in St Kilda. Running 4-8th October, tonight is the final show, so get in quick.

I stand on the sacrifices of a million women before me thinking what can I do to make this mountain taller so the women after me can see farther

Rupi Kaur

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