Above – Connor Morel, Amanda Muggleton. Cover – Amanda Muggleton. Photos – Lucinda Goodwin

Playwright Joshua White’s new work The Mentor is an intriguing and deft two-hander that tackles the tricky topic of ageism in the acting world.

The basic premise is that an aging female actor becomes the mentor of a young male actor. Both are facing the challenges of a tough, competitive industry. And playwright White reveals the personal and professional problems faced by both characters. Central to this story are the particular hurdles that need to be jumped by an aging female actor.

Much-lauded Amanda Muggleton tackles the pivotal role of Amanda Redfern, mentor, with aplomb. In her capable hands the tough-nut exterior of her character gradually cracks to reveal a woman ravished by personal tragedy, and facing bigotry of an insidious nature – ageism in the acting world.

Connor Morel is the youthful counterpart in this duo. As the aspiring actor Jordan Ridley, he is a charming foil facing obstacles of his own.

This pairing of opposites gets off to a bumpy start, builds momentum and culminates in a way that is revealing, confronting and thought-provoking. The relationship that forms between the two is life-changing for the characters, and engaging for the audience. And it is beautifully handled by Muggleton and Morel.

The set by Casey Harper Wood is simple and effective inviting the audience into the mentor’s personal home. And director Christian Cavallo has made the most of the set and the actor’s interaction. The production is tight and well-timed enabling the actors’ message to gain momentum and power.

Aging, and the experience that comes with living a longer life, is clearly lacking respect in current western society. In fact, older women face a double challenge of ageism and sexism, forcing many to feel uncomfortable and try to hide the aging process as much as possible. Some actors become caricatures of themselves as they resort to cosmetic surgery. Only a select few age with grace.  Surely aging should be seen as women’s super power rather than the opposite. 

The Mentor highlights issues that are at play in wider society as well. The gender gap still exists, and ageism is rife. Hopefully, this changes. The powerful role of Amanda Redfern is a start. 

Event details

Theatre Works and Bravo Arts present
The Mentor
by Joshua White

Director Christian Cavallo

Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland Street, St Kilda VIC
Dates: 16 – 26 November 2022
Tickets: $47.50 – $39.50
Bookings: www.theatreworks.org.au

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