‘Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica’: Georgie Parker sparkles in theatrical rom-com

By Gill Canning

<em>Credit: Prudence Upton</em>
Credit: Prudence Upton
What happens when a resentful middle-aged violinist must share her home with a relentlessly cheerful country music enthusiast?

Monica is a classical musician on indefinite leave from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra due to tendonitis. Grieving and angry about her lost career, she decides renovating her kitchen might cheer her up. Enter Gary, a former country singer-wannabe who’s become a tradie in order to pay the bills.

As he renovates her kitchen bit by bit and she struggles to put up with his constant presence, they disagree on what kind of music to play (Mahler or Dolly Parton?) and just about everything else. As she tells him: “Popular music is like sugar – sweet, palatable and utterly worthless.”

But as the kitchen slowly takes shape, the initial animosity between the two is also ‘remodelled’ into something else.

Aussie acting legend Georgie Parker who plays Monica, says Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica by one of Australia’s greatest living playwrights, David Williamson, is a story of its time.

Credit: Prudence Upton

She and Glenn Hazeldine, who plays Gary (aka ‘Rhinestone Rex’) originally performed the play 13 years ago, when it was written. Reprising it now in their 50s, the Gold Logie winner says, “The play resonates in a very different way because things mean different things to you when you’re older and you feel like options might be running out.

“It’s matured into something really interesting and fun, you know, two volatile people who are completely ill-matched finding a way to be together.

Gary, who recognises his own loneliness in Monica, memorably tells her: “Just because the ice is frozen doesn’t mean the ice is thick” and eventually confides to his listeners on his weekly community radio show, “Sometimes love can come from the most unexpected places.”

Playwright Williamson says: “I’ve written plays that are more caustic, savage and biting than this one, but perhaps never one with quite as much warmth and heart, and certainly never one with as much music. Everyone loves a good story about someone finding the right person to share their life with.”

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica is enjoyable, simple fun with some tender moments. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Monica gets drunk in a bar and lets her inhibitions run wild, allowing Parker to show off her acting chops.

As she says: “It’s a romantic comedy that’s so effortlessly funny. It’s unmissable … the playwright at his best.”

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica
Ensemble Theatre
Until 29 April, 2023



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