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Theatre Crush: Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica

Here at Side Street, Sydney, we have crushes on lots of things, and this city’s places are of course just a few of them. Ensemble Theatre is the latest to weasle its way into our hearts. After all, the unassuming Kirribilli institution (which comes with retro outdoor lighting and knock-out harbour views) is currently bringing us the latest intimate creation from playwright David Williamson.

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica is an unusual romantic comedy about Gary, a would-be Golden Guitar-winner who now renovates kitchens, and Monica, a retired Sydney Symphony Orchestra violinist with a bit of an icy streak. Given that the only thing these two can agree upon is the brilliance of Indian food, it’s initially difficult to imagine their relationship will develop into something special. But that’s where Williamson’s plot twist and poetically sassy dialogue comes in: after musical discussions (Gary like Dolly Parton and Monica will settle for nothing less than Bach), kitchen debates and a few interesting lies, we began to suspect a relationship might just work.

With such a small cast the pressure is on to keep the two-hour piece interesting and energetic, and Glenn Hazeldine and Georgie Parker are definitely up to the task. Hazeldine’s Gary is the quintessential Aussie bloke. He’s blunt, comical and comes with a heart as gold as that illusive Tamworth guitar. However, the actor’s charm, energy and ability to belt out a few lines from Jolene makes him all too easy to like. Meanwhile, Parker, who has a knack for snagging Logies, seamlessly transforms from cold to impressively drunk and then wholly likeable. Their characters are both completely believable and it’s a tad heartwarming when they take their final bow holding hands.

Clair Moloney’s creative tiered set design also deserves applause. It gives us an intimate shot of Monica’s sleek apartment, a much-loved community radio station and, interestingly enough, Glebe’s AB pub. So, overall the play is entertaining, endearing and contains a few truly tender moments, making it a rather enjoyable theatrical night out.

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica plays the Ensemble Theatre until November 14. Tickets from the Ensemble box office.

words: Liz Schaffer


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