Dislabelled by Sofya Gollan and Caroline Conlon. Australian Theatre of the Deaf directed by Tony Strachan. Music by Blair Greenberg. The PlayhouseApril 1-3, 2004, 8pm.
If you think theatre of the deaf is theatre only for the deaf, think again. Open up the biscuit tin, shove your prejudice inside and firmly close the lid. Stick it in a dark cupboard, get out of the house and go and see Dislabelled. It's a hoot.
If you like sharp stand-up comedy with just enough audience participation, and who doesn't, then sharpen your wits and look out for the barbs when Gollan and Conlon get into action. As Gollan explains, deaf people don't beat about the bush. They get straight to the point, so be prepared for some R-rated sign language. These women insist they want to tell us about their awful, downtrodden lives. And then they complain because we keep on laughing!
A lot of their stories are about their sexual adventures. Of course, as they explain, there's no particular reason for deaf girls to fall in love with deaf boys, but communicating in the dark with an always-talking sweet-nothings hearing man is more than difficult - it's hilarious. Just wait till you hear how they tell each other whether they want sex or not by squeezing certain bits of anatomy.
In addition to music, song and dance, a special segment is Sophya Gollan's short film. She is not only a NIDA trained actor, but has an MA in directing from the Australian Film Television and Radio School. With a slightly satirical nod to Peter Corris she has produced a little crime mystery with a twist which is worth the trip to The Playhouse in its own right.
Caroline Conlon is a voluptuous bright-eyed joy on stage, while musician Greenberg is a great fall-guy for the two women. See the show, and see what I mean.
And after this show, you can forget about your old biscuit tin. You'll never need to open it again. You might be surprised to know that Auslan (Australian Sign Language) has over 4000 signs and is "spoken" by about 10,000 deaf people. It's an Australian original, like no other - and great fun.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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