The German Club
Until 18 Mar 2017

Review by Jamie Wright

Despite appearing to great acclaim on London's West End and Broadway, winning awards for her film appearances and marrying legendary horror film actor Vincent Price, Australian-born Coral Browne is hardly a household name – though it's certainly not because she was the shy and retiring type.

In a production that takes the audience from Browne's childhood in West Footscray to London, New York, Moscow and Los Angeles, actress Genevieve Mooy plays Browne throughout – as well as taking on the role of Browne's mother and an array of other luminaries of stage and screen.

Writer/director Maureen Sherlock's script is a delight, the tone echoing Browne's reputed fondness for both scathing wit and more four-letter words than a Scorsese screenplay. It covers a tremendous number of events both fascinating and hilarious – Browne and husband Vincent Price's run-in with Alan Bennett's titular 'lady in the van' being one, and her encounter with defector and Cambridge spy Guy Burgess (an event that prompted the Bennett-scripted “An Englishman Abroad”, in which Browne plays herself) in Moscow being another.

It is mostly highs, though – there are some darker moments, but these are few and far between; some balance would make it more impactful. One also has to assume that Browne was not perhaps quite as witty as Maureen Sherlock's script presents her – just as one has to hope she wasn't quite as neglectful of her mother.

While Mooy is engaging as adult Browne – and hilarious in her portrayals of teenage Browne and others – there were a few line issues throughout the performance that threw off the rhythm somewhat. But the footing was regained almost instantly; assuming that these initial wrinkles are ironed out, this show will be a delight.

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)