I fell in deep fuzzy love with the Apocalypse Bear and Lally Katz's writing in 2007 when the bear appeared in a short play set in near Kew at fortyfivedownstairs. My love was affirmed at the Melbourne Festival in 2009, when writer Lally Katz gave him a trilogy of hilariously dark wonders in Apocalypse Bear Trilogy. He's also in Lally's Stories I Want to Tell You in Person; so, there's no way that I could not adore this show.
Lally's also in it, which makes it more awesome.
Stories is what happens when a playwright has to figure out if it's possible to have a career and a fulfilling personal life while working in theatre. And what better way to share this experience than by getting onto the stage (without acting experience) and telling us what she did to overcome the problem of success and loneliness in an industry that loves you as easily as it forgets you.
Lally's adorable as a storyteller. While her writing is dark with emotional dangers lurking in its shadows and subtext, in person she's light and welcoming and the only danger is that she's happy to be extremely honest to make the story better and risks being judged. It's one thing to be judged for your work, but something else to be judged as a person.
But it's often hard to make this distinction. And Lally's Stories shares this so well.
So what does a playwright do when she has more money than she's ever had before? (And earned that money from a play that every critic in the opening-night audience had written less-than-positive reviews about. Part of me wanted her to quote the worst, but luckily she knows what to leave out in her stories.)
What does anyone do when they have more money than they've ever had before? Spend it, of course.
And so begins a tale of expensive psychics in New York, coconut hair shampoo, the dangers of a Ouija board, $400 crystals, being Jewish on your father's side, a pushy bear, a positive dolphin, going against Robyn Nevin's advice, and the problem of having a cursed vagina.
With the help, love and cynicism of director Anne-Louise Sarks and the shiniest design by Ralph Myers, Lally's story is too honest to be true, too outrageously wonderful to be made up and too marvellous to dare miss.