From the moment Germaine recalls her first cryptic crossword to the final, life-affirming moments of this memorable story about a woman who can’t remember, A Flower for Moses promises audiences a tantalising theatrical experience. This latest offering from Melbourne Writers’ Theatre, who have been presenting fine works at Gasworks since 2018, will shortly be unveiled in the Studio Theatre at Gasworks Arts Park. The puzzle begins with a Preview session on Tuesday 11th May followed by five further performances, with acclaimed local actor Uschi Felix in the lead role of Germaine.
We meet Germaine at the age of 82. She is living in an aged care facility and battling the challenges of ageing, including early dementia. ‘But she has never stopped being that trailblazing woman,’ says playwright Clare Mendes, who was inspired to write the play after watching a relative slip into dementia and then ‘float around’ within the condition. ‘Germaine is still spectacular. She has a weakened present, and presence, but in the past she was formidable.’ Mendes notes that when Uschi Felix was asked for her thoughts on how Germaine should be portrayed in the show image, she replied, ‘Let’s show her in her prime.’ The resulting image, captured by Anna Moloney-Heath, reflects Germaine as a stylish journalist in 1950s Melbourne, the unknown past swept neatly behind her with a flick of her flamboyant scarf.
It is to Germaine’s past, with all of its secrets, that the action of this richly literary whodunnit keeps returning, each time leading the audience to an enticing new clue relating to the crime that has haunted Germaine since 1954. Director Cathy Hunt (What Every Girl Should Know, Brunswick Mechanics, Love/Chamberlain Theatre Works) maintains the narrative suspense by cleverly interweaving Germaine’s flashbacks with drama that is unfolding in her present. Germaine’s niece ‘Desire’ (Clare Larman) and her nurse ‘Thomas’ (Daniel Deards) bring present-day insights and moments of humour to Germaine’s search for answers – but each of these characters also has a past that is thwarted by a secret, a puzzle that needs to be solved.
For theatre-goers who enjoy a good puzzle, together with a storyline that twists and turns and a cast who keep pace with the action, A Flower for Moses offers compelling viewing. But from a social perspective, this play serves as a reminder that the elderly in our community, now affected by time and age, were once – and still are – Germaine.
May 11 – 15