The Campbell family return for a final roasting.
Driving Monks Productions kick off the Midsumma Festival 2017 at La Mama Courthouse with Sunday’s Roast.
La Mama begins there 50th year of independent contemporary theatre, over another cheeky culinary inspired creation by writer and comedian Tim P. Driver.
Sunday’s Roast is the third and final installment of life with an average or not so average Australian family.
Felicity (Ruth Katerelos) at 47 is a ‘new age hippy’ and mum of three adult children. While waiting for the result of a home pregnancy test, she distracts herself tending to the last minute details of vegan hors d’oeuvres for another traditional Sunday Roast dinner. She erratically moves between the bathroom, kitchen, lounge, and back to the bathroom. An agile Ruth Katerelos, scales up and down Designer Nick Casey’s innovative set that assimilates a typical home including access through a window to the roof.
Felicity is reluctant to practice her own ‘open door’ policy of discussion and share her recent revelation with her brood. This Sunday they all open up much more than the engagement presents for the upcoming wedding between her son Michael (Pat Moonie) and daughter-in-law Melanie (Lee Mc Clenaghan).
Felicity had enjoyed an experimental youth, which resulted in a teenage pregnancy, the birth of her eldest daughter Emily (Jennifer Monk). The domineering and flailing actress is first to arrive at her mother’s home with her obedient accountant husband Andrew (James Rosier), who incidentally is fantastic comic relief with his tofu cheesecake dessert.
Emily finds her mother fast asleep on the sofa. She suspects something is amiss with her when she substitutes her usual pre-dinner glass of wine with mineral water.
The other Campbell’s arrive one by one for dinner, Michael and his fiancé Melanie then Bonnie (Shannon Kulupach), the effervescent eighteen-year-old youngest sister who saunters in and they all share welcome embraces.
The hierarchy between the siblings is evident. Emily is the model, serious, and responsible first born. Michael and Bonnie seem to share a common bond despite having different fathers from Felicity’s other marriages.
The sisters and Melanie move to the kitchen and the men remain in the lounge making small talk. Emily enlists Bonnie’s help to quiz their mother.
The men prove to be a disgruntled groom and a bored deviant husband. The fast becoming drunk Andrew tries to bond with Michael only to be incessantly interrupted or ordered by his overbearing wife Emily.
The dinner commences in ‘dark theatre’. Both Tim P. Driver and Assistant Director Samantha Cunningham utilise the dim scenes and multi-level set to create natural and realistic movement in different rooms in a home. The ongoing back-stories and scene changes remained fluid, which allowed the audience to focus on any scene without the distraction of complete darkness.
Post dinner the Campbell family ‘open door’ policy of discussion gains momentum. Emily steps up her investigation of Felicity, Melanie and Michael talk about trying for a baby, this leads to an admission from Bonnie, ‘Never having to worry about that’. The conversational banter turns into inquisition and innuendo.
A ‘tennis match’ of accusations of sexual inadequacies goes to and from the dining and lounge rooms. Andrew and Michael give admissions of gay dalliances, Emily is revolted, and Felicity desperately tries to steer them all away from the topic of sex.
Michael swings the conversation back towards Bonnie’s experimentations with one of his mates and the crescendo builds until Melanie produces a used ‘pregnancy stick’ she found in the bathroom, suggesting Bonnie is pregnant. This results in two explosive confessions. Bonnie comes out as bi-sexual and Felicity outrages all with her pregnancy.
Driver’s outwardly obvious comedy is infectious and each story develops of its own accord. There’s a series of ‘retreats’ to different rooms in the house. Felicity holes up in the bathroom to be consoled through the door by Melanie, Emily and Andrew get amorous in the bedroom with adverse consequences and Mother and daughter, Felicity and Bonnie bond over there sexual diversity with a ‘smoke’ on the roof.
The Campbell’s Sunday Roast expands to accommodate two new guests. Bonnie introduces Rianah (Lucinda Barret) as her ‘Full Lesbian’ partner and Felicity’s ‘Baby Daddy’ Graham (Russell Williamson) comes prepared to cheekily bear it all. Both fulfilled their role of light relief with few but pivotal lines.
Driver appears to encourage individual interpretation of current issues in families. Michael tells Emily he was fine with Melanie initiating their marriage proposal. Bonnie, Michael, and Andrew openly express their sexual preferences. Emily insists her mother own a television to alleviate their need for conversation. Emily and Michael discuss their equal responsibility to make Felicity tech-savvy with her new iPad.
There were some timing problems in the first few minutes, which could be easily excused as opening night nerves. Sunday’s Roast is not just for Carnivores. The real or ‘fake’ tofu cheesecake and barbeque tongs are hilarious standout props with a life of their own.
Jennifer Monk and James Rosie are a perfectly cast married couple and a superb ‘straight woman’ and ‘funny man’ team.
Driver’s debut is sharp and quick-witted with continuous laughs. Sunday’s Roast comedic-drama will make everyone snicker or smile all the way through.