Play­wright gets freak on

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly life - TANYA MACNAUGHTON

AC­TOR Luke He­witt is de­ter­mined to find some good in his char­ac­ter Theodore Lent in the world pre­miere of emerg­ing WA play­wright Nathaniel Mon­crieff’s work A Per­fect Spec­i­men. “I have to try and find some good in this man be­cause ev­ery­body in his­tory be­lieves they are do­ing the right thing, even Adolf Hitler and Don­ald Trump,” Hewiit said.

“You just need to go to the script Nathaniel has writ­ten and faith­fully tell the story.”

Mon­crieff’s A Per­fect Spec­i­men, pre­sented by Black Swan State The­atre Com­pany, is based on the tragic true story of Mex­i­can woman Ju­lia Pas­trana, who suf­fered from two med­i­cal con­di­tions that cov­ered her en­tire body in hair and gave her a pro­nounced jaw and big teeth.

When her mother died, Pas­trana’s un­cle sold her to a cir­cus op­er­a­tor, who then sold her to Lent, who mar­ried her and toured his wife in a ‘freak show’ around the USA and Europe in the early to mid 1800s.

They had a child to­gether who was born with the same con­di­tions; both mother and in­fant died within days due to com­pli­ca­tions.

“Ju­lia’s death in 1860 didn’t stop Theodore, who found a Rus­sian doc­tor ex­per­i­ment­ing with mum­mi­fi­ca­tion; he mum­mi­fied Ju­lia and the baby, put them in glass cases and con­tin­ued to tour them around and ex­hibit them,” He­witt said.

“He was a busi­ness­man and wor­shipped the god of money his whole life.

“Over time he grew af­fec­tion for her and I think that turned into a love of a sort, but he couldn’t sep­a­rate Ju­lia from busi­ness and I think that’s what sent him mad in the end.

“There’s a great story that be­fore he was ad­mit­ted to the asy­lum, he was seen on the bridge over the river in St Peters­burg, tear­ing up all his money, throw­ing it into the river and scream­ing un­in­tel­li­gi­ble ex­cla­ma­tions.”

A Per­fect Spec­i­men fol­lows the jour­ney from Pas­trana’s preg­nancy un­til Lent’s death, which didn’t pre­vent Pas­trana be­ing ex­hib­ited un­til 1976.

A move­ment be­gan to get her repa­tri­ated back to her Mex­i­can vil­lage and she was fi­nally buried in a Catholic cer­e­mony in 2013.

Ac­tor Adri­ane Daff plays Pas­trana, while Re­becca Davis is ac­ro­bat – and Lent’s mis­tress – Mar­ian Trum­bull.

The pro­duc­tion is directed by Davis’s hus­band Stu­art Halusz, most re­cently seen in BSSTC’s An­gels in Amer­ica.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d454820

Ac­tors Luke He­witt and Re­becca Davis star in A Per­fect Spec­i­men.

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