High Country Theatre's production of Canadian playwright Sarah Quick's The Men Commandments is great fun and well produced. Director Penny Dalgleish has created a lovely engaging performance that works on several levels.
The play centres around four women telephonists for Rainbow Insurance who discuss their present and past relationships at work and at a couple of social occasions. Each of these women played by Valerie Dalton, Jacqueline Turner, Shell Porter and Margaret Sims is in a different type (and stage) of relationship and the actors give finely nuanced and quite believable performances.
This main plot is in itself quite engaging but what really makes the play zing are two framing devices. Firstly the insurance enquiries from Biblical characters ranging from Noah wanting flood and pet insurance to Samson concerned about a bad hair day. It's fun for the audience to pick up the more obscure references.
The second frame is the voice of God, played by Julie Harm who provides the ten commandments for a successful relationship from a female perspective (and other commentary) in verse and occasionally song. A lot of her advice is pretty sound (don't commit adultery and don't destroy his toys for instance) and the audience can readily identify with it.
This is not however didactic feminism and the final conclusion is that all relationships are different.
The final aspect of the play are a series of brief cameo performances illustrating aspects of the main theme by Roslyn Manion, Jess Rothschild, Glenn Manion and Penny Dalgleish, which include some wonderfully sleazy blokes in the nightclub scene.
High Country Theatre's new home in the Old Masonic Centre (corner of Barney and Faulkner Streets) is a nice intimate venue.
I'd encourage everyone to come along and see some fine acting in a play that lets you think and laugh at the same time.
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