Liam Maguire wrote and directs this play celebrating the ridiculous traits and aspirations of four characters in search of meaning in their lives.
The Shepherd in this case is Anna (Grace Victoria) who is part psychiatrist, part den mother and by the play’s end looks like a contented pet owner, as her patients sit docilely at her feet.
She leads the others through their various neuroses and we get to know them through these, which are many and in some cases vastly amusing. Lewis’ (Mark Paguio) introversion and hatred of his looks and Elsa’s (Cece Peters) narcissism are just some of the extreme tendencies that we are exposed to with hilarious results.
The last hold out of the group – Kate – has gone to Anna to find happiness but finds much, much more – is ironically Anna’s hardest conquest. Kate (Rose Riley) and Anna develop a special relationship and Anna is somewhat surprised at her feelings, which Grace Victoria expresses with aplomb. Anna’s usual grace and composure desert her momentarily when it looks like Kate is going to shrink the shrink.
While the short scenes are bizarre and in apparent random order, a pattern begins to emerge that is vastly amusing in its simplicity. Excellent performances by all ensure a great night of theatre, from Jacob Warner’s manic turn as Kate’s jilted lover, to Mark Paguio’s Lewis, a timid dust bunny of a character – barely there, but a constant presence. Mark (Adam Sollis) is another barely there character, you’d be forgiven for thinking he had had been struck by a tranquilliser dart, until his hilarious triumphant scene.
Cece Peters is in a league of her own as Kate’s friend Elsa, the most ambitious and deluded of them all. Peters’ exaggerated performance borders on the baroque and is perfect in every shrill moment.
Shepherd is presented by Aya Productions and on at the Belvoir Downstairs Theatre until 7 March, for more information and tickets see: https://belvoir.com.au/25a/shepherd/
Director: Liam Maguire
Featuring: Adam Sollis, Grace Victoria, Mark Paguio, Rose Riley, Cece Peters and Jacob Warner.