Roz Hammond is a familiar face to comedy loving TV viewers. She has appeared in the ABC series Mad as Hell, was an ensemble cast member on Thank God You’re Here and memorably starred in three seasons of ABC sitcom The Librarians.
However her background is as an accomplished dramatic actor, with past work including seasons with the Melbourne and Sydney Theatre Companies. So Gym & Tonic is more a dramatic piece with touches of occasional humour.
Gym & Tonic is an ambitious exercise. Penned by Hammond herself, based on her experience as a gym instructor during the actor’s down time from stage and screen.
Hammond plays eight characters in the one-woman show, each of their stories linked together, as they attend week one of a gym class at the local community centre. One is an upper middle-class woman who hasn’t seen her grandchildren in weeks after her son walked out on his family. There is a red haired, late twenties lass ‘looking for Mr Right’. Another is a middle-aged woman who has found herself at a loose end after the death of her mother, with whom she lived with for many long years. Most touching, however, was the portrayal of the courageous woman who has left her children in India and come to Australia to find a job and pay for her family to join her.
These characters are wildly different and there is no doubt that Hammond is a consummate artist able to become each in an instant. She is chameleon-like. My only qualm was the device of half-darkening the stage and her turning to don another wig and thus a new persona, was a little distracting from the actual monologues themselves. The whole piece was well written.
There are touches of humorous relief, like the amusing, intrusive voice-overs of community club announcements.
This is a treatise upon love, loss, family and loneliness. There is no conclusion as such, how could there be? It is an intimate peep into a slice of life.
The Blue Room Theatre 28, 29-31 February 8.00pm ma 15+