[2013127] Dorothy Parker’s Sweet Release of Death

[2013127] Dorothy Parker’s Sweet Release of Death

Lucy Gransbury @ Ayers House Museum – State Dining Room

7:00pm, Mon 11 Mar 2013

Shameful admission time: I didn’t know who Dorothy Parker was prior to this show. I thought her namedrop in the show’s title was a slightly verbose way of introducing a fictional character to the audience prior to the performance… it’s just that everyone else in the near-full audience knew exactly what kind of character they were going to be watching. I was just basing my character on four words in the précis: “Poet. Alcoholic. Aspiring corpse.”

(Incidentally: that is how you write a précis, people.)

When Lucy Gransbury drags Parker’s tired, drunk, and bedraggled form onto the stage (the northern end of the gorgeous State Dining Room), she brings with her an incredibly dry and cutting wit, which is then used to analyse and eviscerate perceptions (both her own and of others) of her life’s accomplishments. And there’s no beating around the bush, here – Gransbury portrays Parker as a ruthless and flawed drunk, critical of everyone (herself included), who also happened to be aware of her own talents.

The central thread of the performance – the continuing attempt to write the perfect suicide note – is not overused, and provides a darkly comical mechanism for Gransbury to skip from one scene to another. But it was Gransbury’s performance that really sealed the deal for me: she absolutely conveyed the stubborn conviction of the intellectual drunkard, with her seemingly booze-afflicted voice allowed to open up to pure notes for the occasional ironic song. Sure, there were a few bumps in the narrative – a few comical asides that seemed out-of-place and mystifying to the audience – but overall the script stayed strong throughout.

It’s a testament to the overall quality of the show that I actually started seeking additional information about Dorothy Parker after the performance was over… and blimey, that girl sure knew how to write a line. And, despite any flaws in the show itself, Sweet Release of Death has left behind only positive memories – of an insanely entertaining mind, a vicious wit, and a great impressionist performance.

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