‘The May Queen’ was insightful.
Have you ever thought that perhaps your high school history could catch up to you? ‘The May Queen’, presented by Reverie Theatre Company, explores intricate relationships within the workplace and how high school incidents may not always remain in the past.
‘The May Queen’ follows the story of Jen Nash from Coffs Harbour. For Nash, being crowned ‘The May Queen’ of her high school was a horrific trauma from which she’s never recovered. After returning home from her high-flying corporate finance job, under mysterious circumstances, everyone has a theory about where she’s been. Jen hides out at her parent’s house until securing a temp job at an insurance agency where she is forced to work with Zumba-addicted Gail and bookish nerd Dave. When Jen finds her former high-school flame Mike is the esteemed star of sales, her secrets begin to spill out.
Written by Molly Smith Metzler (Shameless, Orange is the New Black, Maid), ‘The May Queen’ has been produced several times around the globe, to mixed reviews. The script hammers home the concept of consent and lack of agency through ‘The May Queen’ election process, with the entire process a superficial contest of looks and attractiveness.
It is quite intriguing then that by the end of the script, Metzler is hell-bent on redeeming Mike, a fully-fledged stalker whose only redeeming quality is that he is the victim of a car crash. The play reaches its timely conclusion with a deus ex machina to provide an ending to an otherwise plot hole-riddled script. Placing the obvious issues with the script aside, Reverie Theatre Company has put together a troupe of outstanding actors – the production’s redeeming quality.
Technical elements throughout the production were reminiscent of a fringe production, incorporating simple stand lighting and a JBL speaker for sound. While limited technology, Reverie Theatre Co used this to the best of its ability.
The highlight was the scene change music, suggestive of a Hawaiian luau. It would be fascinating to investigate the ability to produce this play without the use of full blackouts as they were quite distracting and lost the audience’s focus at times.
With the space provided, scene changes were a difficult task. Set design was basic, however, utilising three desks decorated in the style of their owner. Dave’s was clean and crisp, Gail’s was decorated with flowers, crowns and plants and Mike’s was littered with fast food containers.
Direction by the founders of Riviere Theatre Company, Candice Jean and Sophie Lawson, was simple yet effective. All performers were fitting and skilful, and most blocking felt natural and calm. On occasion, there were some jaded movements, however, as the season progresses this should improve.
Brooke Edwards as Jennifer was reserved and diabolical. Edwards invoked a sense of anxiety in the audience. Her use of gestures and facial emotions had the audience sitting on the edge of their seat at all times.
Nathan French as David was plain and deadpan, in the best kind of way. French’s use of dry humour and a deadpan attitude to the extreme made them hilariously funny. Additionally, French’s physical comedy added another layer to the character.
Michelle Macwhirter as Gail was maniacal – a character everyone knows and loves. Leaning into the stereotypical crazy older lady in the office, she had flowers and decorations across her desk, and somehow she does minimal work without being fired. Macwhirter emulated this lady to perfection; she was loveable yet annoying at the same time, an impressive feat.
Rory Impellizzeri as Mike was a slimy character audiences loved to hate. Impeelizzeri played the mistreated misfit with style and suave, their talented was showcased in this production.
The highlight of this play, however, was Cassie Baan as Nicole. Baan is an extremely talented and professional performer, who captured Nicole admirably; a young boss who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Baan was natural in her depiction and hard not to watch.
‘The May Queen’ is a fun night out and good for a few laughs, establishing empathy with relatable characters and a reflection on the influence of high school on adulthood.
‘The May Queen’ performs until July 17, 2023 at Level 1117. For more information visit their social media.