Review: M.Rock – The Rebel Theatre (NSW)

Written by Lachlan Philpott, Directed by Fraser Corfield

Review by Charlotte Smee

After playing in collaboration with Sydney Theatre Company in 2014, M.Rock returns to the Sydney stage at ATYP’s Rebel Theatre. Valerie Bader reprises her role as Mabel Mudge, the adventuring grandma who traipses around Africa and Europe to find her young granddaughter after she doesn’t return home from her pre-uni party trip. Instead of finding her granddaughter, Mabel finds herself, and becomes the hottest new DJ in Berlin – “M.Rock”.

Played perfectly by Bader, Mabel is a lovable character. Breaking barriers left right and centre there are moments of tenderness, and great comedic timing. Her love of music and the discovery of her love for DJ-ing is relatable and very sweet. Milena Baraclough-Nesic as her party-girl, nurse-to-be granddaughter Tracey, has an abundance of energy and earnestness that makes her very convincing as a twenty-something with a lot to learn.

Design by Melanie Liertz builds a convincing Berlin club scene, that becomes Mabel’s house littered with pictures of young Tracey, a hotel bathroom and an African family’s home simply and convincingly. Lighting by Jasmine Riszk directs our eyes to each of these segments and creates a fun club atmosphere with flashing colours complimenting sequinned outfits. Costuming is particularly effective, using simple pieces to allow the ensemble to become everyone from an African taxi driver Lucky, to Tracey’s mum.

The ensemble of M.Rock are absolutely fantastic. Bryn Chapman as Tracey’s cardigan-ed mother was the right combination of hilarious and stern, playing an unusual role with intention rather than kitschy comedy. Darius Williams as the very cool Berlin DJ Messerschmidt, friendly taxi driver Lucky, and his brother Funky is excellent at embodying each character with clarity. Masego Pitso rounds out the cast, bringing equal energy and tact to each of her roles – she was hilarious as a German club kid and a European party-girl nanny. Special mention goes to the ensemble’s ability to switch between accents during scenes with subtlety and accuracy.

M.Rock is an uplifting story about being who you want to be despite everyone else’s rules.

Lachlan Philpott’s writing lets M.Rock down. With great themes such as empowerment and overcoming the limits of what society says you should be, the style is sometimes confusing and unnecessary. Tracey begins the show speaking in rhyme, describing her trip home after a night out. This didn’t seem to match the modern setting, sound design and themes, and, when continued throughout the play, was somewhat awkward. Musical interludes between scenes included sugary sweet lyrics that quite didn’t match the tone of Bader and the ensemble’s nuanced acting.

M.Rock is an uplifting story about being who you want to be despite everyone else’s rules. With some brilliant acting and ensemble work, fun costumes and clever scene changes, this is a fun night at the theatre. If you can look past a bit of sugary sweet rhyming, take your grandma, and remember who you wanted to be before you started uni. As always, this is a heart-warming night at an ATYP production.

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Images Credit: Tracey Schramm

M.Rock plays at the Rebel Theatre until 17th July. Book your tickets here.

SEASON 2022
Previews
 21 – 23 June
Season 25 June – 17 July
Schools Shows
11am Wed 22, 29 June
Book here
Audio described performance
6.30pm Wed 13 July
Post-show In Conversation [free]
Wed 6 July
Register here

TIMES
6.30pm Tuesday – Wednesday
7.30pm Thursday – Friday
2pm, 7:30pm Saturday
5pm Sunday

DURATION
1 Hours 20 Minutes (no interval)

AGES
13+

VENUE
The Rebel Theatre
Pier 2/3, 13A Hickson Road, Dawes Point, NSW 2000, Eora Country

CREATIVE TEAM

WRITER Lachlan Philpott
DIRECTOR Fraser Corfield
DRAMATURGJane FitzGerald
DESIGNER Melanie Liertz
SOUND DESIGNER Jonny Seymour
LIGHTING DESIGNER Jasmine Rizk
PRODUCTION MANAGER Martin Kinnane
STAGE MANAGER Sorie Bangura
ACCENT COACH Benjamin Purser
OBSERVING DIRECTOR Jacqui Cowell
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Kira Leiva
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER Aaron Smith
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER INTERN Alexis Worthing

WITH
Valerie Bader
Milena Barraclough Nesic
Bryn Chapman Parish
Masego Pitso
Darius Williams
And featuring Venus Guy Trap


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