British writer Horace Walpole once wrote ‘the world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”
The line between the two, seemingly juxtaposed, is more fluid than we think.
‘Masquerade’, by Australian playwright Kate Mulvany – adapted from Kit Williams children’s book, published in 1979 – scrutinises this relation and the balance between the two.
It begins with a confronting scene.
Mother Tessa (Erin Williams) is grappling with the fact her 10-year-old son Joe (Wade Pik) has cancer. Her unwavering support is challenged by the impatient and confused boy confined to a room.
This white room becomes the backdrop to a more colourful story, a love as equal to that of a mother and her son, a love the audience learns is shared between The Sun (Ethan Betts) and The Moon (Anne Watterston).
The audience hops between the two narratives as the fictional and real world meshes into one outlandish, humorous, touching tale shared among mortals and characters of fiction.
Jack Hare (Blake Selmes) is entrusted with a riddle and an amulet by his mistress The Moon, to deliver to The Sun – an act of love the comical and easy going hare struggles to understand.
Adversity faces the hare and sympathy drives both Tessa and Joe to help.
How Tessa and Joe come to be in a fictional world, once prescribed to a book on a hospital bed, is not answered. But these details need no answering. Mulvany stresses the benefits in embracing the unknown – in fact, she encourages us to do this, to stop asking questions of logic.
Joe’s medical condition pales against the laughter and fun injected by characters such as Penny Pockets (Amelia Whalley-Routley), Tara Tree-Tops (Anne Waterson), Dawn (Marianne Powles) the Practical Man (Steve Whalley-Routley) and the Man Who Plays The Music That Makes The World Go Round (Andy Picker).
The return of these side characters is highly anticipated, and the music is cleverly-established by musical director Marianne Powles.
The cast and crew, led by director ChrisJohn Hancock are seamless, what would appear disjointed on paper flourishes on stage.
Beyond the message of love, companionship, loyalty and innocence there is a realisation : tragedy and comedy do not need to be divorced at all times, but can come together to provide timely growth when it’s least expected.
‘Masquerade’ runs for three weeks on Wednesdays, Fridays and Ssaturdays until March 3.
- Tickets at the door or via The Lieder’s website.