Reviewed by: The Clothesline
Review by Cathy Tune | 15 February 2024
[Theatre and Physical Theatre/True Life ~ USA ~ AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE] The Arch at Holden Street Theatres, Wed 14 Feb, 2024. The acerbic wit of Dorothy Parker’s writing is still well known and revered by many, and there are many smirks and chuckles throughout this performance as popular quotes slip seamlessly into the script. This US production features Margot Avery, a native New Yorker, as Dorothy Parker. The script is by Annie Lux with direction by Lee Costello. The Portable Dorothy Parker was a compendium of Parker’s quotes published by Viking Press in 1944, so this play has her sifting through her papers selecting pieces for inclusion. This is of course the perfect excuse for Lux to include a roll call of the witticisms and the anguish of her subject. By this time Parker was 53 so the play finds her in the later stages of her career. Covering a single afternoon where Parker reminisces with an unseen publishing assistant – stories involving famous American literary figures such as Hemingway and The Fitzgerald’s are peppered throughout the script, as are personal relationship titbits and betrayals. The older Porter’s personality and lifestyle is shown effectively but this means the tone of the performance is necessarily less dynamic. We can only imagine a younger Parker in full flight. Margot Avery’s performance brings out Parker’s melancholy and her self-destuctive charm. Her readings of Parker’s writing are beautifully paced and milk the biting humour to its fullest. Although there is not a lot of action, this is a well-constructed and well performed piece of theatre that portrays the quintessential humour of a 1920s literary icon. Even if you know little of Parker’s life and work, come and witness some of her pithiest one-liners and enjoy the fun!