Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, Fri 5 Apr.
Bordertown is a convenient half way marker on road trips between Adelaide and Melbourne. Apparently Bob Hawke was also born there. He spent most of his childhood in Perth but a trip back to the town as an adult and a chance visit to a local hairdresser was enough to generate the urban myth that Bob’s silver bodgie hairstyle was born in Bordertown.
This is important to Patricia Barnes, the local hairdresser. In fact hair in general is important. It has to be or she has nothing. She complements her empty life with the inane trivia of celebrities because they matter. They’re successful. And she decides that her daughter must escape to Hollywood where people find success.
Chris Asimos as Emilio Sanchez bursts on to the stage and regales us with his charisma and de rigeur larger than life star behaviour. He’s funny, and genuine, and he falls completely for that girl from somewhere near the border. The scene where he and Felicity (Kim Fox) flirt with each other on first meeting is beautifully choreographed and exudes romantic chemistry.
Dennis the taxi driver doesn’t really go for this celebrity stuff. Although he has a tendency to fall under the thumb of the women in his life, in his own yokel way he’s become his own man. His quirky manner provides a glimpse of the Australian psyche that provides a telling contrast to the Hollywood way. It’s a lovely and endearing performance from Brendan Cooney.
Bordertown is an entertaining and funny show, with strong and convincing performances all round. Katie O’Reilly’s portrayal of Patricia is wonderful. But beneath the humour is the sad fact that many of us seem to need this link with the lives of celebrities to make our own lives more palatable. People’s lives become more important if they’ve had a chance meeting with a celebrity, or they know someone who is a cousin of a famous actor, etc etc. It’s really quite pathetic.
But that is Patricia’s reality. You have to find that connection with fame, and it matters not if it’s true or otherwise. What matters is that people believe it happened, that you’ll be remembered and talked about for years after, because you knew someone famous. And you cared about your hair!
(This review also published on The Clothesline.)