POSEY'S WIG written and performed by Helen Donnelly, directed by Michael Kennard. Presented by Donnelly at Alchemy Theatre (133 Tecumseth). Runs to May 15, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $15, stu/srs $12, Sunday pwyc. 416-536-4323. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
If you mistreat those who work for you, beware - their thoughts might be on revenge rather than quitting.
That's the lesson of Posey's Wig, but don't expect a nasty or a high-toned tale. Instead, a gentle charm runs through writer/performer Helen Donnelly's show, which claims to be the first clown gibberish musical.
Set onstage and off in a turn-of-the-century opera house, it deals with the self-impressed operetta star Miss Posey and Mildred, her downtrodden but playful maid, who yearns to be in the spotlight. The key to that success turns out to be a secret that Miss Posey has kept from her underling.
Playing both characters, Donnelly uses a high-pitched voice for Mildred and a lower register for her liquor-loving employer, who can swoop through an octave's range in the space of a single word. Quick costume changes, behind-the-curtains action and some tongue-in-cheek vocal tricks keep us aware of both characters.
The women's actions and intentions are easy to follow despite the invented language, and the songs (music by Matthew Reid, except for a Puccini aria with new text) give further emotional insights into the pair.
With Donnelly, we're in the hands of a rubber-limbed and -faced clown who knows her stuff - how long to milk a moment, how to touch her viewers' feelings and how to play off that audience, even build on its laughs.
The result, deftly directed by Michael Kennard , is a Cinderella tale with a touch of The Wizard Of Oz thrown in. By the end of an entertaining hour, Posey's Wig fits Donnelly very well.