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Melbourne Observer: Dreamers – review

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See article in its original context here by Cheryl Threadgold for the Melbourne Observer.

Writer Daniel Keene and director Ariette Taylor’s latest collaborative work, Dreamers, can be enjoyed at fortyfivedownstairs until November 30.

Keene aptly describes his contemporary play as dealing with the struggle against intolerance. Widowed grandmother Anne’s (Helen Morse) relationshipwith young Muslim refugee Majid (Yomal Rajasinghe) attracts ugly, bigoted community condemnation.

However, positive messages of love, strength, cultural adaptability and ability to move on in life regardless of age, reassuringly shine through racist, ageist and social isolation issues and the couple’s realistic self-questioning.

Juxtaposing Anne’s flexibility to move on is Keene’s observational recognition of the difficulty for some to let go of the past, cleverly symbolised by a pianola.

Enjoying fun sing-alongs of old-time tunes are characters unable to change attitudes and beliefs from past to present.There’s the Ticket Inspector (Paul English), Eva (NatashaHerbert), Waiter (Jonathan Taylor), Claude (Nicholas Bell)and Foreman (Marco Chiappi). An exception is Anne’s daughter Carole (Brigid Gallacher)and the touching, naturalistic scenes between mother and adult daughter with accompanying emotional dynamics will resonate with many audience members.

Yomal Rajasinghe is perfectly cast as Majid, capturing well his humble, gentle tolerance of others, delightful charisma and willingness to culturally adapt.

Helen Morse’s standout portrayal of Anne is a must-see for theatre-lovers. Morse’s petite and beautiful, delicate appearance belies her incredible performance strength and powerful, yet under-stated delivery.

Ariette Taylor’s expert direction ensures a smooth-flowing, entertaining show, complimented by Adrienne Chisholm’s innovative set design and sound by Sam Bolton.

The use of city sounds and Anne’s sewing machine noise were particularly effective … but I found the well-choreographed wheelie-bin routine intrusively distracting from the narrative.

Mindful of purpose in textual layers and staging of this Keene/Taylor collaboration, I was sorry not to comprehend reason for this segment, or for the play’s sudden ending.

Dreamers is a great show for thinking audiences, and for promoting Australian theatre talents in the wonderful, atmospheric independent theatre space of fortyfivedownstairs.

Performance Season: Until November 30Times: Tues – Sat 8.00pm, Sun 4.00pmVenue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, MelbourneTickets: $45 Full, $42,50 Seniors, Concession $35Bookings: 9662 9966 or fortyfivedownstairs.com

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