It’s been eight years since I first saw Lachlan Philpott’s story of a suburban granny’s discovery of the superstar within – eight years in which a good show has gotten better.
As before, it’s directed by Frasier Corfield and, crucially, the show has retained the services of Valerie Bader as the titular M.Rock, AKA Mabel Mudge, a Bankstown grandmother whose search for her missing granddaughter takes her on a journey that sees her discover new love, new skills and a passionate following in the Berlin techno scene.
Philpott has tweaked the script somewhat since 2014. References to the pandemic lockdowns serve to stoke the urgency of a teenager’s urge to see and experience the wider world. The core concerns of the play remain the same, revealed in a warmly funny play alerting us to the nonsensicality of the spoken and unspoken limitations placed on our elders.
Corfield has brought together an appealing cast to work alongside the marvellous Bader. Milena Barraclough Nesic is excellent as Tracey, who’s pre-programmed gap year trip falls apart in Berlin when she moves in with a couple of contemporary artists living in an abandoned airship factory and becomes obsessed with the DJ who rules the floor of a club called Die Hindenburg.
Bryn Chapman Parish, Masego Pitso and Darius Williams bring a lightly comic gallery of characters to life very effectively – with the latter appealing to all ages as the sexy DJ Messerschmidt.
Designer Melanie Liertz’s skeletal set allows any number of spaces to pop-up as the story moves from Bankstown to Berlin via Kenya. Venus Guy Trap and producer Jonny Seymour (who DJ’d the premiere season back in 2014) provide a danceable soundtrack you wish would crank up beyond the polite and into the realms of the visceral.