Welcome to the Masque
Riverside Digital Series 2
August 23, 2020
Streamed once and once only, but capable of reaching a global audience, Welcome to the Masque is a welcome relief from the constant barrage of Covid-19 media coverage. The title’s play upon “masque”, a form amateur theatricals and a popular court entertainment in the eighteenth century, wittily references the current command or recommendation to wear a mask.
At the same time, the title plays its own little joke with the word “amateur”. This cabaret-style hour of entertainment showcases the talents of the versatile actor, Genevieve Lemon, a familiar face on film and TV. “I would have only been a little tucker in 1988”, she says with a sly smile, and getting a laugh, alluding to her age or long career in entertainment as if longevity might be a drawback. The very professional award-winning Lemon holds her audience in what is basically a one-woman show for what seems like a very short hour.
Lemon is ably supported by a trio of other “amateurs”. Max Lambert, legendary composer and musical director, hiding behind the guise of a bumbling pianist as he introduces the show, becomes a sympathetic accompanist and partner as he and Lemon muse (in elephant hats) on the old days. Sydney Theatre Company wig-master, Lauren Proietti, awkwardly assists Lemon with an array of wigs and masks ranging from the ridiculous to the fantastic, and Darren Yap, director and actor, absent-mindedly manages the props and ramshackle stage settings.
Amid the “chaos”, Lemon on her first arrival attired as a much-larger-than-life bag-lady, enunciating the word “discriminaTORY”, and name-dropping Bunnings, makes the audience her friend. From “Here you come again just as I was getting used to being without you” with its pointed reference to the impact of Covid-19 on theatrical employment to a very moving performance of the difficult Sia lyric, ‘I’m going to live like tomorrow didn’t exist”, Lemon wins both laughs and sighs.
Most importantly, when in song, when being herself, Lemon overcomes the limitation of the laptop screen, and seems to be incredibly close. Nevertheless, we, like the actors and theatre crew, welcome the signs that soon the theatres will be opening up and perhaps with masks we can welcome back actors and creatives to the stage.