tele­vi­sion: Un­flap­pable Phyrne Fisher re­turns

Essie Davis rel­ishes her crazy pri­vate de­tec­tive role, writes Lisa Sim­mons

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS -

AC­TOR Essie Davis didn’t need con­vinc­ing to reprise her role as Phryne Fisher, the pearl han­dled pis­tol tot­ing, jazz-era fe­male pri­vate eye star of Miss Fisher’s Mur­der Mysteries, re­turn­ing to­mor­row night.

‘‘She’s the cra­zi­est most out­ra­geous char­ac­ter. I love her to bits,’’ says Davis of the lady de­tec­tive based on the char­ac­ter cre­ated for pe­riod crime ca­pers penned by Kerry Green­wood.

‘‘She’s a spokesman for un­der­dog, a rule breaker, a fighter for women’s rights, such a flirt and just so com­pleted skilled and clever at ev­ery­thing she turns her hand to,’’ Davis laughs.

‘‘The role is a gift for an ac­tor. This sea­son alone, Phryne has per­formed fla­menco and fan dances, spo­ken Rus­sian, scaled Par­lia­ment House and rowed a boat. By def­i­ni­tion that means I have to throw my­self into ev­ery­one of th­ese sit­u­a­tions too.’’

Not to men­tion the dress-ups . . .

‘‘Beau­ti­ful coats, trousers, jack­ets, dresses all hand­made to fit me,’’ Davis lists the col­lec­tion which is cre­ated by cos­tumers and sewn by hand.

‘‘Whole col­lec­tions of ear­rings, rings, fans, shoes, gloves. Hats, did I men­tion the hats? Ev­ery­one of them beau­ti­ful.’’

She ex­plains: ‘‘Phryne gets a whole new look in ev­ery episode as she moves be­tween the worlds.’’

New in­stal­ments visit a high-class brothel and move from grave­side to the world of medi­ums and spir­i­tu­al­ists, while the friends in­ves­ti­gate old crimes com­mit­ted in the trenches of WWI.

There are vis­its to a ski chalet, the sea­side and the boxing tents.

‘‘That’s where Hugh (Hugo John­stone-Burt) gets his kit off and shows us all his mus­cles,’’ Davis teases.

‘‘My own favourite episode is set in the world of rally car rac­ing, where the most spec­tac­u­lar cars you’ve ever seen come out and Phryne dons gog­gles.’’

One in­ves­ti­ga­tion is set at a univer­sity, an­other in the world of silent film­mak­ing. Oth­ers visit the spooky cel­lars of an his­toric vine­yard, and the laun­dries ‘‘where fallen and reck­less girls have been im­pris­oned to work as slaves’’.

Davis laughs again: ‘‘It’s just been crazy and full on.’’

The sec­ond se­ries re­turns Ashleigh Brewer as Phryne’s com­pan­ion Dot, de­tec­tive John ‘‘Jack’’ Roberts (Nathan Page), his po­lice­man as­sis­tant Hugh (Hugo John­stone-Burt) and Aunt Pru­dence (Miriam Mar­golyes).

‘‘I’m lucky to work with such lovely fun peo­ple. The crew are hi­lar­i­ous and fan­tas­tic and very pa­tient and they have to be. Nathan, Hugo, Ash and I just gig­gle our socks off when we get to­gether,’’ Davis says.

Miss Fisher’s Mur­der Mysteries: Fri­days, 8.30pm, ABC1.

Essie Davis

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