Measure of a Moment  – La Mama (VIC)

Written by Charles Mercovich, Directed by Robert Johnson

Reviewed by Martha ‘MJ’ Latham

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

La Mama Courthouse
Sep 28 – Oct 2

I’ve always thought of La Mama as a traditional theatre. The shows I see there tend to be traditional in nature; naturalistic, fourth-wall style shows with big casts and scripts that tell stories of people from 10 to 40 years ago. Though Measure of a Moment was no different, I cannot say I did not thoroughly enjoy myself. Not every work needs to break the boundaries of theatrical form. Sometimes all we need is a good story told well. A bangin’ set always helps too.

I wasn’t quite sure exactly when Measure of a Moment was set (circa Great Depression), but I was damn sure it was set in Australia. Discussions of stockman, “going bush” and your classic Aussie Mum and Dad dynamic were abundant in this play. The cast and crew have done a spectacular job of drawing you into that world, with period appropriate (or near to) costumes, mannerisms and even beer bottles. Despite the length of the work, almost 125 minutes excluding interval, I never found myself gazing down at my shoes, or thinking about what I would have for dinner. The work captures your imagination and holds you in its grasp, taking you back in time to a Melbourne that felt a little too familiar. Themes of financial hardship, balancing relationships against responsibilities and struggling with addiction; the Melbourne of Measure didn’t really feel that far from home.

With an immaculate set by personal fave Riley Tapp, there was always a sense of ricketyness to the piece. Performers used unstable suitcases as dining chairs, dangling lamps swung every time someone bumped into the backgrounding and the cloth backing that gave the set a sense of security was eventually ripped off before the beginning of the second act. Together with the text, the play is worth seeing for the set alone.

The cast certainly played some strong roles, though perhaps felt held back a little by the direction. I never really felt spoken to, rather at, by lead Jordan Chodziesner. This does not mean Chodziesner’s performance was poor by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the relationship between Chodziesner’s character Connor and his best friend Nic, played by Asher Griffith-Jones, was one of the guiding lights of the piece. The two had a real connection on stage that far overshadowed any lack of connection between performer and audience. I also particularly enjoyed the constant references to acting like a “right old dandy”. A hilariously old fashioned version of “No Homo” that propped up more times than I could count.

With an immaculate set by personal fave Riley Tapp, there was always a sense of ricketyness to the piece.

However the standouts of the show were undoubtedly Claire Duncan and Carissa McPherson. Times certainly were tough for boys with gambling addictions, but I was so much more engaged by the stories of the women who just kept trudging along. By the end I was wondering why the story was about Connor and Nic at all, when I would have far preferred to have seen 125 minutes of traveling midwives delivering bush-babies from state to state.

The twisted and messy world of Measure for a Moment certainly holds up to scrutiny. It’s certainly not groundbreaking new work by any stretch, but not every play has to be. What’s tried and tested is tried and true, and sometimes theater is less about the form and more about the story, Brecht and the boys be damned.

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Content Warning: This production explores themes of suicide and drug addiction. Haze.
Writer/Producer: Charles Mercovich
Director: Robert Johnson
Composer: Louis Ajani
Set Designer: Riley Tapp
Lighting Designer/Operator: Tim Bonser
Costume Designer: Amy Oakes and Emily Busch 
Props: Erica Moffit and Bridie Turner
Performed by: Asher Griffith-Jones, Jordan Chodziesner, Carissa McPherson, Darren Mort, Claire Duncan, Liliana Dalton, Abigail Pettigrew & Luke Toniolo.
Abigail Pettigrew – Emma / Olivia
Liliana Dalton – Bagman
Claire Duncan – Iris / Anna
Jordan Chodziesner – Connor
Asher Griffith-Jones – Nic
Carissa McPherson – May / Margaret / Mrs Malmsbury
Darren Mort – Barty / Marcus Clarke
Luke Toniolo – Jacobson / Will / Matt / Editor
Production Manager / Stage Manager: Jemma Law

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