Chrissie (Kayla Hamill) is a paramedic, whose boss, Stephen (Geoff Paine), has discovered she’s faked some of the qualifications on her application. His hands are tied – he must dismiss her. However, Chrissie convinces Stephen to let her tell her story. We get flashbacks of Chrissie’s difficult road to the present day, along with Stephen flashing back to his own life as he keeps finding parallels between Chrissie’s torrid tale and what he’s gone through with his own daughter.
Kayla Hamill gave a splendid performance as Chrissie, working well with Geoff Paine, who played Stephen (as well as Chrissie’s dad, Bruce). Matt Furlani was suitably gross as the pimp, Lenny, while Zak Giles-Pidd was brilliant as Chrissie’s boyfriend, Rick, in flashbacks.
There’s not much that’s subtle about Credentials, but one thing that began to engage was Rick’s journey from no-hoper to surprisingly heroic. Nell Feeney was charming as Stephen’s daughter, Rosy. Nice support was provided by Yvette Turner playing Stephen’s wife, Jessica, and Paul Bongiorno playing the paramedic that helped save Chrissie’s life, inspiring her career focus.
The staging is stripped to its bare bones by Director, Tom Gutteridge. There’s no set, no ceiling (a shame because voices can get lost heading up to the rafters instead of out to the audience) – just some chairs and a light-up box. When not involved in a scene, the other actors stand against the wall of the room until it’s time to join it. It made for slick scene changes and the pace rarely lagged throughout the show.
There’s no subtext, just each character’s ability to say exactly what they’re feeling and why they’re feeling it. Considering the hostility towards sex work and sex workers that persists today, it was refreshing for Rosy to choose sex work and admonish her father for suggesting she should feel shame about it. It’s an earnest play, once that certainly wears its heart and themes on its sleeve.
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Performance: Tuesday 1 August 2017 – 6.30pm
Season continues to 13 August 2017
Information and Bookings: www.lamama.com.au
Image: Kayla Hamill with Matt Furlani in Credentials – photo by Rachel Edward