The Woman in His Mind
Set in a seedy motel room, Christine Lambrianidis' new play, The Woman in His Mind, is an exploration of a marriage at the point of implosion. The set mirrors the state of their relationship, all suburban décor, crumpled bed sheets, strewn clothes and a TV set screening only static.
John (James Deeth) and Katharina (Kate Gregory) are a Greek-Australian couple on the brink of divorce, enacting a strange role-play in which they pretend to be the people they once were – before their identities were subsumed by the roles of husband and wife, father and mother. But the erotic soon gives way to the emotional, as they trawl through years of misunderstandings, deceits and betrayals in search of the moment when doe-eyed young love gave way to the disillusionment that they are both mired in today.
As the script repeatedly drives home to us, John and Katharina’s identities have not only been obscured by the personal history that has amassed around them. The weight these characters bear is epic – that of gender stereotypes, of ethnicity and of cultural history (not to mention John’s Daddy issues) – and their dialogue labours as a result.
The couple search for a connection beyond the world of images and archetypes, beyond the “moral bullshit” and the façade of a “proper life”. As Katharina insists, the Greece that John yearns for, where “women are women and men are men”, no longer exists. And yet the generation of Greek-Australians that the play explores also seems slightly anachronistic. Its concerns surrounding cultural identity held echoes of second-generation immigrant stories told in the 1990s such as Head On and Looking for Alibrandi, but ignored the economic and social issues that are plaguing Greece at present.
The intimacy created by Chloe Greaves’ excellent set design should have been exploited more, while Lambrianidis’ script would benefit greatly from the age-old writerly adage, "show, don't tell".
The Woman in His Mind will be performed at La Mama Courthouse from October 20-30. Tickets are $20 full price or $15 concession. For more information, visit www.lamama.com.au.