Monument

by | Aug 21, 2023

By Heather Bosted

Newly elected Edith, is the youngest woman to ever lead her country and she has 90 minutes to get ready for the most important speech of her life. Enter a young makeup artist from David Jones, Rosie, with the mission of giving Australia’s Youngest female PM the perfect first impression.

Plays that give themselves a countdown at the start are creating a difficult challenge, but the script succeeds, cleverly using each stage of getting ready as a new chapter of conversation. As Edith becomes more made up, more is unveiled. It keeps us interested. And it keeps us aware of the pressure these characters are under and is a fantastic structural device Emily Sheehan has employed.

In real-time, Edith (Sarah Sunderland) is made up by Rosie (Julia Hanna).

Everything from to clothes, hair and makeup is crafted before us, leading to interesting discussions of authenticity, patriarchy and class, as well as signalling to the audience that everything in politics is as curated as you imagined.

The issues that plague women every day are shown to be as much of a problem for Rosie as they are for Edith, despite the two being seemingly, worlds apart. Be real, but not too real. Be powerful but not overpowering. You can be feminine, not too masculine, but you can’t be girly; otherwise, you won’t be respected.

But the dynamic between Edith and Rosie keeps the show light, never feeling too preachy.

Julia Hanna shines as Rosie. With excellent comedic timing and hilarious inflections, she has an energy and presence on stage that is unmatched. By contrast, Sutherland plays Edith as a steely guarded individual, never apologising for her ruthlessness but letting her be a chaotic, savage hurricane of power and insecurity; a refreshing character. The two eventually form something that you couldn’t call friendship, but more of a mutual respect.

The play reaches its tipping point backing Edith into a corner where she turns on Rosie weaponizing their difference in class and status. In this moment, and indeed throughout the show, the script shrinks away from its dramatic moments.

The set is spectacularly designed by Sophie Woodward, as an all-encompassing room of pink. In the intimacy of the theatre, we feel as though we are Paparazzi peeking in on a private moment.

The script leaves a lot of clever room for direction in the softer moments of silence, and Sheehan understands the power of simply putting two different people in a room and having a conversation. However, the direction doesn’t fully take advantage of this, and the staging can feel a little stagnant at times and stilted at times.

Overall, this is a funny and tight show, but the issues it wants to discuss only ever make it to a surface level, and it sometimes loses its footing.

Image: Jodie Hutchinson

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