I went into Minnie and Mona expecting a show that I would admire more for its method than its madness, but I left with all my expectations having been wildly exceeded.
The Duck House have hit their stride with Minnie and Mona. Having seen a few other Duck House works at The Blue Room over the years, I was expecting yet another smart, quirky, if somewhat ambiguous show.
The Duck House women have made a name for themselves in Perth by creating offbeat, original works that are often darkly funny and surreal. The worlds they create are filled with childish obsessions, neurotic passions and bold juxtapositions. These women are not afraid to play, experiment, and explore, and their modus operandi is very apparent in the final presentation — you can see right into the beating heart of their process as their shows unfold.
M&M stars Gita Bezard (co-founder of The Duck House) as Minnie, and Arielle Gray as Mona. Minnie and Mona are two friends who play dark, childish games of imagined circumstances that take a decidedly morbid turn.
The pairing of these two actors is the key to the magic behind this piece; Gray and Bezard work in tandem with a beautifully varied dynamic. They are perfectly in tune with each other on stage without adopting each other’s rhythms, thus avoiding the pitfall of their performances melding into one bland note.
Bezard is the perfect straight man to Gray’s outrageous antics. Gray absolutely shines as the unpredictable, disturbed, impertinent Mona, while Bezard’s Minnie keeps a solid anchor-hold on the proceedings, without which this piece could easily drift away.
Writer Jeffrey Jay Fowler seems to have amped up the comedic side of The Duck House. While their previous pieces have had elements of dark humour, M&M is consistently funny, due not only to the actors, who have impeccable comic timing, but also due to resourceful, inventive direction by Kathryn Osborne, and a very cleverly written script.
Humour lies in the unexpected, and there is plenty of that here’ Death is a subject that seems to provide endless fodder for those who have the nerve and skill to treat it with humour, and Fowler is quite deft with his application.
The structure was a bit emotionally jarring at times as it moved around its play-within-a-play, but the creators and writer dared to keep us on our toes, which ultimately fashioned a more exciting experience for the audience.
The design and technical elements were simple and effective, with nothing extraneous and everything serving the story perfectly.
With Minnie and Mona, The Duck House continues to build on its solid foundation of original, bold works, and this is surely a highlight of Perth’s 2013 Fringe World Festival.