Thursday, May 31, 2012

Deeming Did it Sir

Frank and Jenny relaxing at home

Down in Sydney watching my good friend Frank Gauntlett’s new play, Deeming, I couldn’t help but wonder if the 19th century serial killer had simply had a poxy childhood?

I was consumed with all the contemporary fixations about diabolical characters – real and imagined – until Frank began to explain that the murders weren’t really central to his work.

Frank is - was and always will be – fascinated with theatre and drama from the complexity of a truly layered text to the frivolity of anecdotes about the men and women who populate this exotic world.

You only have to look around Frank – and good wife always-laughing-and- smiling wife Jenny Brown's home chock-a-block with pictures and memorbilia – to see that the world of theatre is central to their sometimes seemingly chaotic lives.

So Deeming is as much – if not more – about  stage-manager Alfred Dampier and his company who, in the tradition of a modern TV reality show, capitalised on the infamous Deeming case.

In real history terms, Dampier wrote a piece called Wilful Murder! as Frederick Deeming faced the hangman’s nose back in 1892 and made an absolute pile thanks to Old Sydney Town’s fascination with the case.

Frank’s story, eloquently written with what one reviewer called ‘Victorian ornateness’ takes the concept a step further and has Dampier, desperate for a success, turning it into a theatrical reality piece.

Although set in colonial Australia, this fascinating black comedy parallels our contemporary craze in ‘reality’ shows.

Overall I enjoyed the show – and was suitable impressed with the venue, the Kings Street Theatre, - but a Kennedy review is not appropriate.
Instead, I’ll post a link to a review which impressed me – and I think Frank was fairly happy with it – and another on Deeming for those fascinated with ‘orrible murders.

The review from Gareth Beal appears in artsHub.

The run ends on Sunday, but I am confident that Deeming will one day return from the shadows and haunt some suitably atmospheric theatrical stage.

In the meantime, Frank’s next production will be the return of his earlier successful adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine starring Mark Lee who co-starred in the movie Gallipoli with Mel Gibson.

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