Amanda Muggleton is at Subiaco Arts Centre right now performing in The Book Club (written by Roger Hall and directed by Rodney Fisher) and she’s spinning a tale with exuberance and joy about a woman who joins a book club and finds an unexpected romance in between ‘the pages’. Amanda Muggleton is a consummate storyteller, and she has the audience eating from the palm of her hand the minute she walks on stage. She has a presence which demands attention and she is an entertainer in every sense.
This is a one-woman show told from the point of view of Deborah, a woman who chose to be a wife and mother rather than pursue a career and her independence. Her children have already left home, and her husband is more into sports and work than anything else, so she’s decided to join a book club to gain a social outlet. She’s an avid reader, always has been, so she’s found the perfect milieu to indulge in her favourite pastime and in some of her fantasies.
Deborah explains how she has always dreamed of meeting a writer and having a wild love affair. When it’s her turn to host the book club she decides to get in touch with a local writer to see if he’ll come and speak to their group. What happens after he comes to their meeting takes Deborah by surprise, and certainly makes for a roller coaster of a story.
Amanda outlines each character she refers to splendidly. Her use of half a dozen different accents, mannerisms and postures to give each character its distinction is so much fun to watch. But she’s not becoming those characters outright; she’s giving impersonations of them through Deborah’s voice. That helps to keep the story moving, which it does at a considerable pace. Amanda is up and down and all around the set, using it like a stand-up comedian does to draw in all the sections of the audience.
There is no fourth wall in this show and there is frequent interaction with the audience throughout. She listens intently to how the audience reacts and remains perfectly in tune with us the whole night. There are a few times when she does slip out of character (on purpose), but this only adds another fun layer to her performance. It should be noted that Amanda is going around in a boot because of a broken foot (a real-life broken foot and rather than trying to ignore the big boot in the room, she’s worked it into the routine.)
The story does go on a little long in the second half, but Amanda manages to keep us with her the whole way because she’s an expert at what she does. She’s an amazingly sparkling and generous host for the evening and she makes it all look so effortless. Her energy is infectious and when she takes her final bow she opens her arms wide to embrace us all. The affection between her and her audience is mutual.