Is There Something Wrong With That Lady? Review

Reviewed by Georgia Cassimatis

Is There Something Wrong With That Lady? could also be called ‘Welcome to the Debra Oswald show!’ due to Oswald’s sheer fabulosity at having created her own, dare I say ‘narrative’, that took her from a little girl growing up in suburban Carlingford, Sydney with dreams of becoming a writer, to the flashy not so flashy lights of literary London.

For it was as a little girl, sitting up the front at the Griffin theatre where her fate was sealed. While watching actor Reg Livermore dancing around in leather pants spraying sweat all over the place, a drop landed on Debra: the elixir of which had her hooked. It was in that moment she knew her destiny was to be a writer.

On her journey for this holy grail, there were however, obstacles to overcome; such as hypochondriasis due to an obsession that everytime she watched a medical show as a child she insisted she had cancer, which saw her mother take her one too many times to the Doctor, as well as the fact that her parents were not divorced. They did however divorce later, and the hypochondriasis proved to be great research for her successful medical TV show Offspring decades later. Then there were the awkward sexual dalliances with men such as the Christian elf, and another, the ‘love of her life’, who invited her out, with his girlfriend. Her attempts to be a woman of ‘enigma’ and mystery, to snare a man, failed miserably, because at the end of the day, she was just too chatty.

Fate however, would strike her again in the form of a Darlinghurst apartment riddle with cockroaches, and a man who cooked her two eggs on top of a cabbage. Cupid struck and they have been together since; a union she admits stabilised her world in the horrendously fickle industry of being a writer. If she did not have her soul mate, she questioned whether she would have continued with her career.

This is where the show pivots to its title: while she has reached the razzle dazzle of success as a playwright, screenwriter and author over a 40 year career (Offspring, Police Rescue, The Secret Life of Us, Gary’s House to  name a few), the underbelly of the industry is fraught with brutal rejections, no matter how many credentials, and too much waiting time between projects where one is ultimately told a resounding NO; dismissive rudeness attached. So why persist? 

This has been Oswald’s struggle: just how to come to terms with it. While even carving out that seemingly treacherous Plan B, she is blocked from making the jump, because ultimately storytelling about the world with all its neuroses, romance, art and political issues of the day, is simply in her blood.

This 80 minute one woman show is a great insight for any creative in the industry who identifies with the reality of the business, told endearingly with a mix of self-deprecation, wit, fun, authenticity, and of course, chattiness.

Directed by Lee Lewis, production is minimal: consisting of one red chair surrounded by storage boxes with props; the focus on Oswald’s delightful storytelling.

The show runs until October 14 th

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