Adriana Xenides was a stable on Australian television in the eighties when she used to co-host Wheel of Fortune. A show based on solving a phrase as contestants guessed random letters to be revealed by Xenides as she strolled across the set like a Parisian model.
Australians would invite her into their living rooms for eighteen years as she worked with hosts Ernie Sigley, John Burgess, Tony Barber and Ron Elliot. And until 2001 she held the Guinness Book of World Record as the longest running game show host.
Xenides is played by four actresses, Adriane Daff, Harriet Marshall, Laila Bano Rind and Katherine Tonkin as they step up to represent major events from her life. Events, that we are informed by the cast, have been researched courtesy of Google, Woman’s Day and The Australian Women’s Weekly.
When the production dramatically depicts these events there are some heartfelt stories. The musical score, written by Xani Kolac, contain some exciting and emotional numbers. It is when Xenides life is explored that this production shines. Daff excels as the leading lady and manages to mimic Xenides actions and character with precision.
The confusion sets in when cast members begin to improvise aspects of their lives, that are unrelated to Xenides life into the production. Who cares what size shoe Tonkin wears? Or do we really need a rundown of the casts body of theatrical and operatic work?
It is as if they started writing a musical about Xenides and, realizing it only ran for half an hour, started to improvise the actresses lives into the production. I get Wheel of Fortune touched many peoples’ lives, but maybe it would have been better to explore the average Australians life in the eighties.
The set by Zoe Atkinson shimmers and shines as a replica of the Wheel of Fortune set, while lighting by Richard Vabre adds to the dramatic events.
The production has some heartfelt moments and an emotional score as Xenides struggles with addiction, sexism, broken marriages and eating disorders, but somehow her life gets lost in the irrelevant tales from the life of the cast.
Studio Underground – State Theatre Centre of WA, 174 William Street, Perth
Performance: Tuesday 27 October 2018 – 7:00pm
Season continues to 11 November 2018
Information and Bookings: www.bsstc.com.au
Image: Katherine Tonkin, Harriet Marshall, Adriane Daff and Laila Bano Rind star in Xenides – photo by Dana Weeks
Review: Craig Dalglish