ATC presents Grey Nomad
By Meg Taylor
Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/12/17 – “A mostly hilarious, sometimes very touching play about four adults who have come together to remind each other how precious life is”; the perfect description coming from actress Wendy Hammers from the Australian Theatre Company’s production, Grey Nomad. Last night was Opening Night for the cast of Grey Nomad at the Skylight Theatre in Hollywood, CA. The cast includes Ros Gentle, Wendy Hammers, David Ross Paterson & Paul Tassone, under the brilliant direction of Iain Sinclair. Grey Nomad is a hysterical and heart-warming comedy about living the dream. Two couples, who under normal circumstances would have never become friends, hit the road in their RV’s for an adventure along the West Australian coast. They arrive in the beautiful seaside town of Broome, where they meet and form an unlikely but endearing friendship. These four quirky, interesting characters come together to teach each other all kinds of lessons about the delicious briefing we have called life. Then there’s Jim and Helen, portrayed by Paterson and Gentle, who are stuck in their ways over the past 40 years together and are on each other’s nerves for most of what is supposed to be their joyous retirement. The there’s Tim and Val, portrayed by Tassone and Hammers, two very free people who seem to be extremely happy and living life to its fullest capacity; but there are extenuating circumstances that limit this “freedom”; you’ll just have to see the show to find out what exactly that is.
This play is hands down one of the funniest plays of the year. Gentle, Hammers, Paterson, and Tassone are comedic geniuses. The audience was roaring of laughter throughout the show; the play is 80% laughs and 20% serious and sweet stuff. Their chemistry as a whole cast made for an extremely successful show. Not only were the performances given by the actors phenomenal but the script, written by Dan Lee, is superb. Lee wrote a play that is relatable to people of all ages, even though the play focuses on a couple in their 50’s and a couple in their 60’s. To be able to evoke more than just laughter out of a comedy is an extraordinary thing; you make them laugh and at the same time have them reevaluate their own life and can promote positive change. That’s exactly what this play does. The theme of reminding each other how precious life is and to celebrate it while we can, resonates with people of all ages.
A controversial tactic that was used in this production may cause some to debate if this production is appropriate for all ages: nudity. There was brief nudity but it is undeniably necessary to introduce the wacky characters of Tim and Val. These characters are very free with their bodies and souls and tend to frolic around naked whenever they please. This is what makes Jim and Helen reluctant to get to know them in the beginning of the play; so, it must be addressed on stage. I commend Hammers’ performance during this scene; she was 100% comfortable on stage, almost entirely nude, and gave a fantastic performance. Her character is sensual but not sexual; she’s excited about celebrating life and living life while you can. That was her way of expressing this idea so the brief nudity was appropriate. When asked about this experience, Hammers said, “It’s the greatest way for an actor to start a play. It’s so open so that any chance you have to be afraid or nervous goes right out the window when you do that. You almost wish you could run on stage naked at the beginning of any show you do because then you’re like ‘okay got that out of the way’ and then you get back to the play.” Hammers personal mission statement as a woman and as an artist is to help women celebrate their bodies and their lives, to really understand that we only have one life and one body and you should appreciate and embrace it while you can, at any age that you are, at any weight that you are, and any body that you’re living in. She has very similar to beliefs to her character and the relatability allowed her to thrive in this production.
To anybody that is tired of all the bad news in the country and the world and wants to just laugh their head off for 90 minutes, go see this show. Be prepared to laugh, have a good time, and gain perspective. Performances of Grey Nomad continue through Oct. 8: Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.; Sundays at 6 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. It is located at Skylight Theatre: 1816 1/2 N Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90027.