Grey’s Lobotomy is a locally written musical by Xavier Brouwer. Brouwer is actually the producer, director and musical director of this piece, what a busy man he is.
Based on the Victorian health system and the pressures that come with being in the industry today, Brouwer has put together an eclectic piece that should hit home with its audiences.
This production has many positive points, including, the set and costume design by Sarah Tulloch. The set was utilized well and the authentic hospital equipment was a nice touch. The costumes, on the whole, were suitable for a hospital environment, although we did see some razzle dazzle in a couple of the dance numbers. I especially loved the surgical gown that Norm had to wear, which showed off his best assets! Brendan Jellies’ lighting design was imaginative and well executed.
Only 6 people were in this production and Emmie Capek had them all dancing up a treat. The choreography in “Sugar” and “Foxtrot with a Lamp” were especially good.
It was great to see such a small ensemble cast with no weak links in it. Chris Asimo played Norm (Life be in it) and Richard the Spin Doctor. As Richard, he and his colleges tried to come up with ideas of making people think they needed to eat healthier and get more exercise without mentioning the bad things that can happen to them if they don’t. It was also good to see here that they couldn’t mention certain side effects of a bad life style due to sponsorship. Asimo was great as the overweight non caring Norm, but he made sure we got to see his well-defined body during the curtain call, when he appeared with no shirt!
Ollie Bell was the Pharmaceutical dealer and Roman, this young man is a terrific dancer and has a great voice. Kirsty Gayther played the underpaid and under-appreciated nurse. Gayther has a really sweet voice and played the love struck nurse convincingly.
Morgan Philips was very entertaining as Whitey the psych nurse who has lost a patient and rather creepy as the Grim Reaper. Just never say ‘bypass’ in his presence.
Penny Larkins, straight from Ned A New Australian Musical, has jumped into another home grown production, this time as Libby (Life be in it), Norms sister. Larkins portrayed the AKA Kath and Kim stereotype character to perfection. I intend to start using Libby’s new prancercise as part of my daily workout regime. Larkins experience really shone through and her powerful voice was a delight to listen to.
Rounding up the fine six was Laura Raiti who played the budget driven Miss Black, who had to ensure the hospital came in on budget so she could get her bonus. Raiti has a great voice and was great to see the flip side of her personality when she played Florence Nightingale.
Brouwer had a great sounding band out the back and the ensemble were well balanced as far as harmonies were concerned, the direction overall was good, just be careful of sight-lines into the back stage area, make sure your blacks are pulled across and kept that way for the duration of the show.
I believe that this production needs some reworking. The individual scenes, although entertaining within themselves they were on the whole not very funny. The show also seemed to lack cohesion, there was no narrative linking everything together, and thus made it seem a little preachy. I thought that a good idea would have been to use Norm as the protagonist, and that we see everything through his eyes, his experience of the health system and the grim reaper his unseen antagonist. From the ambulance to waiting in casualty, to getting a bed, all the way through to coming out the fit individual that he was. Brouwer could still keep most scenes in tact just re-jiggle them a bit. I’m sure that being writer, director, and and producer would be stressful. Sometimes an extra set of eyes can often help us see what we can be blind to. When you’re emotionally involved in the production it can sometimes be hard to see where your production isn’t living up to expectations.
Grey’s Lobotomy is a great concept for a show and needs to be seen by a lot of people to help encourage more new local shows to be written and produced. It’s worth seeing just for the prancercise scene!
Grey’s Lobotomy is playing until 26th July at The Alex Theatre, St Kilda.
For more information and tickets: www.greyslobotomy.com