THE MELBOURNE HERALD-SUN, 11th
HIBBERDS IMAGINATION IS ALIVE AND
"Great idea opening a one-man show on International
Womens Day quipped a friendly fax to actor Peter
Hosking on the eve of his opening of Jack Hibberds classic,
A Stretch of the Imagination. The production is heartening
proof that the mono-drama is alive and well - even if written in
1972. Hibberds irreverent, garrulous anti-hero Monk
ONeill (Hosking) is given a new lease on life on his 25th
anniversary, which happens to fall on the opening night.
Hibberds script is a perfectly crafted, multi-faceted
jewel. Monks dialogue blends Australian idiom with
sophisticated language, literary and mythic references. He cites
Homer ("I was dux of classics at Xavier"), Shakespeare,
Proust and Baudelaire. In Paris, he "parked the Malvern Star
against a flying buttress". In a pretentious Melbourne
restaurant, the wine was "unspeakably Yan Yean". This
is intelligent writing as we rarely see these days. Have we got
anywhere in 25 years?
Hibberd never underestimates his audiences intelligence,
nor its ability to grasp a good allusion. He raises the stakes,
prodding at boundaries of taste and style, pushing images to
their limits, diving from irony and puns to bawdiness or a sight
gag about prostate problems.
Hoskings impressive depiction of Monk is intensely
physical, but manages to appear effortless. He looks fresh after
a rigorous two hour performance contorting into Monks
Greg Carrolls swift and crisp direction utilises the
cavernous Comedy Club room, moving Monk from stage to bar to
audience. "Weve put a bit of Dimboola into it."
The piece is supported by some effective music by Joe Dolce.
It evokes the Texan desert colliding with the Australian outback.
The simple, portable paper panel which serves as a shadow
screen, designed by Peter Corrigan for Monks
"private" moments is perfect in its inspired
Every international grand Prix guest should be press-ganged
into seeing this impeccable example of Australian culture. This
is what Melbourne is all about: the classical, the witty, the
intellectual, the passionate and the gut-wrenchingly funny.
Reviewed by Kate Herbert
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