What an absolutely marvelous triumph! Belvoir’s My Brilliant Career is a fresh, frantic and furiously delicious slice of Australian theatre. Kendall Feaver’s adaptation of Miles Franklin’s classic novel is brimming with a unique cadence and confidence.
Feaver never strays into over written romantic platitudes nor does she tread the cliche path of character assassination and expose – rather Feaver has crafted a work of pure joyous fury, allowing the characters to inhabit a world of her making as she tells the story her way. And gosh the work is all the better for it.
Kate Champion’s direction builds on this theme. Throwing convention and tired technique to the wind, she elevates and excites the narrative, further creating a complex world that feels so utterly simple. Beautifully and deceptively simple.
Nikki Shiels leads an utterly faultless and blissfully cohesive ensemble. Her Sybylla Melvyn is scrappy, courageous, flawed, vulnerable and entirely formidable. This is her story and she will tell it her way and Shiels tells it bloody well.
Shiels truly embodies every aspect of her character, from the rye smirking asides to the audience, to the ego free but emotionally charged delivery, it is hard to imagine anyone else stepping into Sybylla’s confidently ambitious shoes.
Blazey Best, Jason Chong, Tom Conroy, Emma Harvie, Tracy Mann and Guy Simon round out the cast, gifting the audience to a masterclass in multi character acting. Each performer crafts every one of their characters with depth, respect and humour, flicking between each character with a mere turn of the eye. They are generous with each other while playfully stealing the scene when the opportunity allows.
My Brilliant Career’s design elements are, essentially, perfect. Every moment serves the story, while telling its own. Again, the design is sly in it’s simplicity – making an impact and articulating the story at exactly the right moments, with a seamlessness that is both rare and satisfying in equal measure.
It is not an exaggeration to say that this is a faultless production. Given the hopeful optimism of 2021 and beyond, audiences can only hope that this work finds its way to a stage near them.
My Brilliant Career
Upstairs Theatre – Belvoir St Theatre, Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Performance: Thursday 17 December 2020 – 1.00pm
Season continues to 31 January 2021
Information and Bookings: www.belvoir.com.au
Image: Nikki Shiels and the Cast of My Brilliant Career – photo by Brett Boardman
Review: Gavin Roach