Old maid edgy in hands of lady leads

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage - Sara Fitz­patrick

WHEN a play is dubbed ‘Down­ton Abbey meets Monty Python’, you prob­a­bly envision a pe­riod drama with a side of silli­ness.

And while When He Gets That Way – nom­i­nated for the 2017 Martin Sims Award – meets that brief, it takes a fur­ther and un­ex­pected turn into the strange and sin­is­ter.

“I’ve never read an­other piece like it,” Florida-born theatre maker and per­former Lisa Lout­tit said.

“It’s like Down­ton Abbey be­cause the au­di­ence is watch­ing a mis­tress and a hand­maid strug­gle within the class struc­ture and pre­ten­sion that is nec­es­sary, and Monty Python is the sense of ab­surd com­edy and the ridicu­lous be­cause it has a sense of height­ened play­ful lan­guage that cre­ates the world.

“Then there’s also this sense of dark fore­bod­ing as the women work to outdo each other and it turns out their pre­ten­sions may be their own un­do­ing.”

Lout­tit said the lan­guage was stylised and witty and de­liv­er­ing the lines was sometimes tricky.

“It is quick-paced and mo­ti­va­tions change on a dime so it’s quite a chal­lenge: it’s not one of those plays where you can drop a line and find your way back,” she said.

Luck­ily the two leads – Lout­tit (mis­tress) and Taryn Ryan (hand­maid) – have a great rap­port af­ter work­ing to­gether pre­vi­ously on Lout­tit’s Perth di­rec­to­rial de­but, Porto.

“Taryn did mu­si­cal theatre at WAAPA and there is some­thing in the mu­si­cal theatre tech­nique that lends it­self to be­ing able to have the skill set for this lan­guage and the sense of tim­ing and de­liv­ery,” Lout­tit said.

She worked in New York for most of her adult life but came to Perth about three years ago to live with her Aussie part­ner.

“It is def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent here to the USA, but I’ve al­ways embraced change,” she said.

“My ab­so­lute favourite thing here is the sky: it’s clear and breath­tak­ing and some­thing I’m not used to, hav­ing lived in ur­ban ar­eas.”

When He Gets That Way is part of the an­nual Su­bi­aco Theatre Fes­ti­val run­ning through­out June.

Taryn Ryan and Lisa Lout­tit from When He Gets That Way.

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