Friday 14 September 2018

The Mouse - Theatre Review

What: The Mouse
When: 18 - 23 September 2017
Where: MC Showrooms
Written by: Clancy Fraser
Directed by: Bianca Lyndon
Performed by: Cassandra Bleechmore, Clancy Fraser, and Dominic Westcott
Clancy Fraser and Dominic Westcott
Clancy Fraser is one of Melbourne's most talented stage writers of psychological thrillers and this Fringe she has brought us another gem - The Mouse. The Mouse is showing at The MC Showroom in Prahran until the 23rd. If you like your theatre spooky and nail biting this is the show to see.

I first came across Fraser's work last year with Amnesia and I love the writing in The Mouse just as much. I was thoroughly engaged right up to the very last moment and my mind was constantly second guessing itself as the story unfolded.

The Mouse is a classic Hitchock style thriller investigating the relationship between two sisters. Claire (Fraser) is the more successful of the two and has gone on to get married and run her own business. Beth (Bleechmore) on the other hand, has been living with and caring for their ailing mother and has no job skills to speak of. The mother has died, the will has been read, and everything has been left to Claire. This is where the story begins.

In the days following, Claire and her husband Rob (Westcott) stay to help Beth sort things out. What unfolds are the deep and dark secrets between husband and wife and siblings. Throw in some ominous sleep walking, food allergies, phsychological conditions, and financial distress and The Mouse has all the ingredients for danger from all directions.

The script is a little bit confusing at the start, but once it settles in and we understand the variables, Fraser leads us on a tension building journey which has been competently handled by Lyndon with some great staging choices in a venue with some limitations. My only suggestion is I would have liked a few more red herrings from both the writing and the direction, but I was completely satisfied with what I got. So satisfied I greedily want more, I guess.

Fraser is not only a great writer, she is also an incredibly accomplished actress with a centredness and assurity which leaves the audience feeling confident she will take us where we need to go. My main concern for all the cast really, is they need to work on their projection.

Westcott gives a great performance in the second half of the play as husband Rob, but he is a little loose at the beginning. Lyndon doesn't have much by way of production to help built the suspense and tension so there is a greater burden on the actors. In this play, as the outsider character, Westcott needs to start winding that tension from the very beginning. The unease in the audience builds in syncopation with Rob and every time Westcott relaxed we relaxed as well, which let us off the hook. Never let us off the hook!

I think the potential in the role of Beth was a little beyond Bleechmore at this point in her development as an actor, but she did well as the home staying younger child. Her natural youth and innocence hid many of the character's sins and gave us space to scare ourselves in our own imagination.

If you like Hitchcock films you really are going to have a great time at The Mouse. I really can't wait to see Fraser's next play. She is getting me hooked!

3.5 Stars

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