FRINGE REVIEW | MARY WEATHER’S MONSTERS

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By Suzi Owen

 

“Triple threat” – the phrase simply won’t do to describe the monstrous talent that is Rama Nicholas. “Hendecuple threat” is more on the quid. 

 

In her third rollicking one-woman show in as many years, Rama gives us Mary Weather’s Monsters, an original folktale laden with action, laughs and sentimentality. It’s a dark, boardie romp wholly imagined by this award-winning performer, where Rama masterfully embodies each hero, halfwit and Hawk Beast in her cavalcade of charming characters.

 

It’s 1890 in dirty ol’ London town and if infection, starvation or fever won’t knock you off then a werewolf, Lizard monster or, God help you, a Looger Beast just might – tough times. But, have mercy, Londoners can boast a protector, a Master Protector actually: Mary Weather, an independent, self-assured vampire-hating lass who’s a bit of a swaggering braggart. Mary is lauded across the river Thames and up every cobbled lane – she is a darling, a heroine. Men raise their flagons to her and children flush with giddy wonder. Mary Weather – the monster slayer!

 

But your average grotty eastender isn’t this lady’s only admirer. Percy Shelly – Mary’s Victorian-era booty call (or posterior pigeon-post, you could say) – thinks himself a bit of a smooth-tongued romantic. But however determined Percy is to extend their companionship beyond a meeting of bodies and into a meeting of hearts, he falls amusingly short.

 

Demons follow our heroine both figuratively and literally, while childhood tragedies and feelings of loss and guilt somehow nourish her fervour as she ventures from the realm of man to the realm of monsters. But unfortunately, as fortune sometimes goes (our narrator warns), the more you believe you know who you are, the more you suffer when your identity falters. And in Mary Weather’s Monsters, as in any spirited fable, things are not what they seem and characters are transformed through vice and virtue.

 

Stories of this kind once only existed in the oral tradition, which makes the sole performer format of this show very fitting.”

 

Many of Rama’s characters will be familiar to the audience by name – Lord Byron, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Percy Shelly – great 19th century writers all respectfully re-imagined for our amusement. Their inclusion is well suited, as these vagabonds saw the imagination as a way to transcend the ordinary self and lose one’s identity – to create new worlds, which is exactly what Rama achieves in this one-woman-show.

 

Mary Weather’s Monsters is a tale of simple morals and universal sentiment in a fanciful and unstable world – it is a fable. Stories of this kind once only existed in the oral tradition, which makes the sole performer format of this show very fitting. The style and the substance are wonderfully married here.

 

There are a myriad of reasons to get along and see this heartfelt show, if not simply to appreciate the stamina and skill necessary to achieve what Rama has here. But, simply, it’s just fun – good, romping fun.

 

Always heartfelt, sometimes raunchy and all together funny, Mary Weather’s Monsters shares a message with other great stories – fairy, folk, Disney or otherwise – that the further from home you wander, the closer you just might get to yourself.

 

 

 

Dubbed a ‘raw’ and ‘passionate’ writer by GQ Australia, Suzi was schooled in RMIT’s Professional Writing & Editing program. Though a highly versatile writer, showing ‘flashes of brilliance’ in fiction, Suzi’s prose most naturally lends itself to punchy op-ed, humour-laden non-fiction and copywriting. 

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