Not Finished With You Yet - St Kilda (VIC)
Written and Composed by Dick Gross AM. Directed by Kim Anderson.
Reviewed by Annika Loci
Alex Theatre, St Kilda
Until 16th April
“A Hilarious and Risque Musical” – Dick Gross, AM
Being almost 20 years married myself, I was curious when I read the synopsis of this new musical written and composed by Melbournian Dick Gross AM. In a world where life expectancy has significantly increased and its impacting the survival of happy life-long marriages, the government has taken it upon themselves to pass law where divorce has become compulsory after 13yrs. However, married couple Kate & Rupert are still in love and decide (unlike their fellow unhappily married friends), to challenge the law to stay married, with the threat of significant life consequences looming if unsuccessful. The clever casting of real-life married couple Christie Whelan Browne & Rohan Browne provides a beautiful and heart-warming natural chemistry between Kate and Rupert.
Photos by Simon Kosmer
Although the idea of the story is interesting, given the divorce rate now a days and the number of couples choosing defacto relationships over marriage, the musical itself feels rushed, overly wordy and slap-dash in its attempt to unnecessarily cover the numerous issues both middle-aged singles and couples face. Thus, it doesn’t allow characters to have a decent development arch, with the plot often loosely jumping from one scene or style of musical genre to another with one of twenty songs shoved in for good measure. With its significant amount of adult content and swearing, it’s one to leave the kids at home for.
Many of the songs in themselves are funny, clever and well written, and certainly show off the amazing caliber of talent in the cast. A standout song is the clever catchy number and reprise of ‘Caffeinated Conversations’. Cristina D’Agostina as Betty, (Kate’s unfiltered friend) gives a fabulously raunchy Chicago-esq performance in ‘Hit The Bottle’ along with Alexia Brinsley (Maria, Kate’s happy single & childless sister) & Leah Zilberman (Lecaysia the unhappily married former school friend of Kate). The male supporting ensemble of Matthew Hamilton & Matt Heywood (the unhappy married partners to Betty & Lecaysia), Dinesh Mathew (what feels like the token gay character so topic of surrogacy can be included) all provide much needed attitude and sass in their respective roles given the lack of character depth and dimension across the two act show. Lauren Gunson as Kate & Rupert’s 15 year old daughter Ella has a wonderful stage presence and very impressive vocals, despite not given much opportunity to stretch her interaction with the stage at times, especially in her Act One solo. Rebecca Cullinan & Alec Gilbert do well providing some laughs in the legal courtroom scenes in the more consistent Act Two, which includes a glorious acapella version of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.
The minimalist set of stairs, hung digital screens and some moveable white screens and props allow for effective projection and in what should been quick changes of scene provided by cast (shoutout to Brinsley using quick thinking, humour & her improvisation background in this performance to stop these often unsteady screens falling down like dominos).
Not Finished With You Yet provides many enjoyable, poignant, and heart-warming moments coupled with humour through the shining performance of its stellar cast. However it’s in need of more development and the attention of a good dramaturg. Nevertheless, Gross achieves his overall intention of asking audiences to consider why or how do life-long marriages last in this modern era, through an intended juxtaposition between the “gratuitously rude to the seriously existential”.
Not Finished With You Yet is currently making its world premiere at the Alex Theatre, St Kilda and has extended its run into the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until 16th April.
Sunday Matinee 4pm 16th April
Information and Tickets:
Written & Composed: Dick Gross AM
Director: Kim Anderson
Musical Director: Martine Wengrow
Set Design: Kim Anderson & Matt Osbourne
Costumes: Victoria Home
Technical/Lighting/Stage Design: Matt Osbourne
Choreographer: Jordan Pollard
Following up this in the same scene is musical number is No Singleton Blues, which although shows off Brinsley & Zilberman’s great vocal talent, has no real relevant lead in dialogue and the juxtaposition of Blues and Rap is confusing. With other songs in variety of musical composition just adds to the confusion and lack of plot consistency.