They're onto us … Quick! Hide the spiked heels!

Posted: May 27, 2009 in Uncategorized


Secret lives of librarians

May 27, 2009



SHHHH! Devised and directed by Xanthe Beesley
La Mama, Carlton May 24; until May 31
Running time: 60 minutes.
Reviewer Martin Ball

LIBRARIES have a curious reputation in society. Celebrated throughout history as storehouses of knowledge, they are nevertheless lampooned in popular culture as dull places inhabited by prim ladies telling people to “BE QUIET!” It is this second image that provides the considerable comic material for Xanthe Beesley’s Shhh!, a “play without words” that is largely the product of recent VCA graduates. Despite the lack of dialogue, this show is anything but silent, however, since the La Mama audience is invariably in stitches of laughter.

Shhh! is meticulously crafted, demonstrating a great sense of focus and poise. Three characters lead us through the classic stereotypes of librarians, suggesting that underneath all that repression there lies a seething tumult of lust desperate to tear up the pages of all those airport paperbacks and wallow in an orgy of passionate expression. Amy Dwight is exceptional as the apprentice librarian who breaks free, mustering a staggering virtuosity of facial tics and twitches that would make even Bert Newton wince with envy. One moment Dwight is a cardigan-wearing Marion the Librarian, the next she has morphed into Ursula Andress. Fantastic.

Ella Watson-Russell brings terrific presence to a persona of twinset, pearls and sensible shoes. Allen Laverty chips in nicely as the love interest who lures Dwight away from her bibliotechnical responsibilities. An effective set and some constructive lighting round off Beesley’s finely honed direction. A real hoot.


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