Mona Brow Williams poses for the cameras. Credit: Nerissa Rowan.

Mona Brow Williams poses for the cameras. Credit: Nerissa Rowan.

All aboard for Monabrow Williams’ wild ride.

You’ve never had a tour of Roma Street Parkland like this before. Monabrow Williams is our charismatic tour guide. You can tell straight away how much she loves her job.

Mona takes over the Parkland Explorer train and just when you think you might learn something, she starts to unravel, haunted by ghosts from her past.

This intimate trip holds a great deal of laugh-out-loud moments, interspersed with a little awkwardness. Is Mona the personification of our mixed-up psyches, jam-packed with self-adulation, insecurity and regrets?

The characterisation is fantastic, which is not surprising since Mona Brow Williams made her Brisbane acting debut in 2006. Writer and performer Claire Pearson has become the washed-up actress and cabaret star — but be careful not to use the term washed-up around Mona, as she can be very sensitive. She teeters on the brink of caricature while remaining a character who you can feel for — even if it is with a grin on your face.

As with many of the Anywhere shows, you are not just a static viewer. Everyone receives a travel pack to help them participate in Mona’s reminiscence. Some members are treated to … special experiences. No one is safe.

The train is a lovely way to move from scene to scene as Mona tells the story of her life, but it does have some minor drawbacks. It can be difficult to hear when you’re at the back, despite Mona’s loudhailer. The middle carriage is the place to aim for, though those sitting in the front are treated to a little more of Mona’s story as she mutters to herself or makes sly jokes.

Congratulations should go to the driver and conductor, who did an admirable job of remaining good humoured as the dowdy diva bossed them around. They are the usual operators of the Parkland Explorer and seemed rather amused by some of Mona’s unexpected antics.

It’s a beautiful venue for this quirky play and was an enjoyable way to round off a Friday afternoon.

Reviewed by Nerissa Rowan

Mona Brow Williams (Retired actress and cabaret star)
presented as part of the 2013 Anywhere Theatre Festival

Written and performed by Claire Pearson
Directed and designed by Elizabeth Millington
Produced with thanks to Roma Street Parkland, QUT and Visible Ink
Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane
10–12 and 17–19 May

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.

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