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THEATRE: 26 JUNE 2015

By TONI CARROLL

Reception: The Musical, by Bethany Simons and Peter de Jager | Directed by David Wicks

Hayes Theatre Co | Hayes Theatre, Potts Point, Sydney | Part of Cabaret Season 2015, which runs until 28 June

I spent a lot of my university and early married life working as an office temp, oftentimes on reception. It’s interesting, the life of a receptionist. You’re simultaneously eye candy and mother figure, no matter how old you are. Treated like a vacuous, empty-headed pet, yet able to work complex office equipment, juggle a multitude of tasks, and solve hundreds of random problems brought to you, like children with a boo-boo.

Bethany Simons and Peter de Jager cover pretty much all of this and more in Reception, through original songs and monologue.

While not having the raunch and verve of typical cabaret, and perhaps a little more earnest than warranted, this offering. as a part of the Hayes Theatre’s Cabaret Season 2015, is well worth a look. I certainly related to the experiences of the character Bethany. Nothing is left out — the fake sexy phone voice, every caller mishearing her name, students stealing stationary from her desk, printer woes, and the soap opera storylines that pass the reception desk where the poor receptionist is trapped like a butterfly in a clear paperweight.

It’s not surprising that it’s funny, because it’s true. I recognised it all.  Bethany is based on her creator’s own life as a front-desk phone jockey for the Australian  National Academy of Music. Co-creator de Jager is an ex-student, which is high praise for the school as his original score is an absolute joy, especially when accompanied by Simons’ pitch-perfect and at times operatic voice.

The program describes Rogers, Sondheim, Sullivan and other iconic musical theatre composers as his primary influences for the song stylings. Song titles such as Do You Have Sticky Tape?, Dave the Telstra Man, Sentimental Mail Run and I’ll Miss the Cake may sound lightweight, but not when put to such heavyweight music.

And Simons is no slouch herself. It’s a hard slog to carry a full 60 minutes, alone but for a musician-cum-sidekick, and Simons does a good job. Her talent at slipping into characterisations of the people she comes across every day are well defined and spot on.

Congratulations to both fabulous young performers in creating and delivering a show that has won Best Cabaret 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

My guest and I even stayed for the post-show lamingtons and ‘office party’ in the foyer!

NOTE: To read Toni Carroll's blog, visit tonicarroll.wordpress.com

Bethany Simons ... Her talent at slipping into characterisations of the people she comes across every day are well defined and spot on.