What happens if you just stop showering? Well, we'll find out as The Honeytrap are about to present the Australian premiere of Elizabeth Meriwether’s (writer of the Golden Globe nominated New Girl) script – The Mistakes Madeline Made is a twisted and hilarious coming-of-age story about a girl who develops Ablutophobia, the fear of bathing.
Actor Liam O’Kane plays Wilson, a mysterious and socially inept co-worker of Edna's, and explains that at its simplest level the play is a story about Loss. "Edna is haunted by the memory of her dead brother and her unwillingness to process his death is affecting her job, sex life and personal hygiene," says O'kane. "Elizabeth Meriwether cleverly, and delicately, tackles some big-picture issues, like war and accountability, but wraps them safely in this intimate story about mundane office work and the importance of good lovin' and a nice shower."
On his recent return to Melbourne (fresh from his studies in New York City at the prestigious Actor's Studio Drama School) O'Kane was eager get into the local independent theatre scene and was approached by The Honeytrap for an audition. He read for 'Wilson' and was instantly attracted by the comedy and the character's vulnerability. "Wilson lurks around the office, making funny noises and working on cryptic projects, and when he meets Edna he falls quickly and entirely in love," O'Kane explains. " Behind the awkward exterior, there is something endearing, passionate and potentially heroic about Wilson. He intrigues Edna and they can potentially save each other, but first Edna needs to let Wilson in."
O'Kane also speaks highly of the collective known as The Honeytrap. "All of the girls are excellent female actors, even the directors, producers and stage-managers, and I've already learnt so much from them all." O'Kane admits that working for an all female ensemble was a little intimidating at first. "These women are all very talented and intelligent and beautiful and they work together really well. They almost have their own language of no-bullshit collaboration; they are so mature and trusting as a group that they can be brutally honest," says O'Kane. " Luckily, they were gentle on little Liam. Nothing but welcoming and supportive . They've made me feel like part of the family and its very rewarding work. Their supportive, performance driven approach has made it feel more like a collaboration which has lead to an incredibly strong ensemble piece. I couldn't be more proud of the project, and the company."
Meriwether’s play is fresh and new as it follows one woman's struggle with a soul-crushing job as a personal assistant who then goes on to wage a furious, funny war against all things complacent, pampered and clean. O'Kane admits to being drawn to comedy – in fact, the darker the better. He says he is fascinated by the trust an audience gives a comedian and the control a comedian has to take his audience somewhere emotionally affecting. His favourite characters are the ones that win you over and then break your heart. O'Kane and Meriwether's play then seem like a match made in heaven as this unlikely story of love and dirty people raises the improbable questions: Is dirty living a political act? And is clean living even possible in these times of unrest?
O'Kane's attraction with Wilson has not elevated that character to favourite role status – yet – O'Kane feels Wilson isn't totally alive yet, although so far, he admits, it’s been fantastic. O'Kane's favourite moment happened in year 12 when he was asked to perform an original monologue for the Top Acts concert celebrating exceptional VCE work. "It meant I got to perform to an audience of two thousand at the Hamer Hall here in Melbourne," he says. "The whole experience was surreal. I felt like a celebrity. I feel silly saying that considering just last year I was presenting work at the Actor's Studio Drama School in New York City, but that early experience was really important and will always be spectacular to me."
O'Kane's immediate creative future looks in the bag. The Honeytrap have this quirky little play ready to go and O'Kane's Wilson will be superb but beyond that O'Kane's wanderlust will take him back to New York for a bit next year where he will take some classes and catch up with some contacts. Meanwhile The Mistakes Madeline Made is awaiting an audience so go ahead and book today.
The Mistakes Madeline Made – 23 August to 8 September, 2013