David Gauci and Davine Productions. Start Theatres. 13 Oct 2023
Director/Set Designer David Gauci’s production of William Finn and James Lapine’s A New Brain is a 60s paranoia-fuelled, hallucinatory, high-octane, acid trip filled with high-glam, sharp choreography by Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti.
Finn and Lapine’s tale of Gordon Schwinn (Daniel Hamilton), a composer for a kids TV show suddenly faced with possibly dying from brain surgery, features two conflicting levels in its structure.
At its surface, it’s a show stopping high camp romp featuring Schwinn’s nemesis, Mr Bungee, (Adam Goodburn) the frog-costumed artist he’s writing for, along with assorted eccentric characters including his mother Mimi (Catherine Campbell), business manager Rhoda (Dee Farnell), and homeless lady Lisa (Lisa Simonetti).
Beneath this is a much more subtle dig at neuroses of mother son relationships, serious art, how to really effect change, and good relationships.
Stringing that together in balance and effectively is a huge challenge. In a sense, the work is overwritten towards the feel-good, high-camp, trippy end of the scale, meaning there’s a sense of incompleteness about the sharper undertones.
No matter, Gauci and cast plough on anyway, undeterred by this sense of textual incompleteness. It’s as if there was no choice really.
The romp through Gordon’s addled mind as he seeks to clarify his spectacularly disordered life is spellbindingly played by a perfectly cast ensemble in voice and performance.
Hamilton’s pedantic Gordon parries superbly against Goodburn’s mesmerisingly acidic, evil, Kermit gone bad, Mr Bungee. Catherine Campbell’s, Mimi Schwinn is the perfect showbiz mother who probably needs a therapist. Dee Farnell’s, Rhoda is wonderfully taut, organised alpha neurotic, while Lindsay Prodea as Gordon’s lover, Roger Delli-Bovi and Mark DeLaine as nurse Richard provide much camp satire and lightness.
When: 13 to 21 Oct
Where: Star Theatres