Re-editing of Lachlan Philpott by the Australian Theater for Young People’s (ATYP) Mr. Rock hits all the right comedic and musical beats. The hilarious play debuted in 2014 to rave reviews, and it returns with the much-loved Valerie Bader reprising the lead role.
Mr. Rock is the whirlwind story of brash 18-year-old Tracy (Milena Barraclough Nesic), who misses a trip abroad, prompting her equally brash 18-year-old grandmother Mabel (Bader) to fly across the world on a thoughtful evil research mission. The most unlikely part of the story is that Mabel ends up becoming a star DJ at an exclusive Berlin nightclub – but that part is based on fact. Mamy Rock aka Ruth Flowers, was a real old person who discovered a talent for the turntables and became a podium legend in her twilight years. In Philpott’s piece, Mabel’s rise to techno fame is just an exclamation point at the end of a more complex story of self-exploration.
We begin in Bankstown, with Tracy returning from a sleepless night the day before she left for Europe for a pre-college vacation. It’s immediately apparent that Tracy is whimsical and easily misled. It is also evident that she has a much better relationship with her grandmother, Mabel, with whom she shares her wayward zest for life, than with her pragmatic mother, Kerry.
Tracy arrives in London and from there her whole itinerary revolves around nightclubs, eventually taking her to a shared “artist’s residence” (squat) in Berlin, where she ditches her schedule, spends all her money and fails to contact his family. Mabel hops on a plane and heads for Kenya, a planned destination Tracy never arrived. It begins Mabel’s own journey of distraction, discovery and late flowering.
It’s an inventive and very funny play, skillfully using minimalist sets and a deft ensemble: Bryn Chapman Parish, Masego Pitso and Darius Williams, who play multiple roles. The comic delivery is impeccable. Famous DJ, Venus Guy Trap is on stage to provide authentic beats.
Put on your sparkly sneakers and come have some fun.