by Pam Gems

Cast & Crew
Paloma Alma; Robert Roworth; Imogen French;
Gemma Knight; Rhianne Evelyn-Ross;
Luke Middlebrook; Peter Hayes; Keith McIlroy;
Katharine Richardson and Trin Papadopolous.

Taylor Allen - Lighting design
Lindsay Walton - Sound design
Christie Bennett - Production design
Trin Papadopolis - Costumes
Roz Riley - Director.

10th - 25th July 2015


Camille by Pam Gems at The Star of the Sea Theatre, Sunday matinee 19th July 2015. Directed by Roz Riley.
Review by Wendy Lewis, Theatre Blog

She’s alluring. She’s strong-willed. And she’s doomed.
A tragic tale…truly the stuff of grand opera…La Traviata to be precise!
Camille charts the heady days of Marguerite, Lady of the Camellias, a Parisian courtesan. She has not just taken what life has thrown at her but has fought back. She has made choices to achieve independence, education and financial security. But it’s not that simple. Men encircle her like moths drawn to a flame…but does she ‘use’ them or do they ‘use’ her? Does she love Armand or hate him and so seek revenge on his class and his family? Robert Rowerth plays the depressed and self-deprecating Armand with great skill.

Marguerite is a woman constrained by social standing and limited opportunities. A woman facing cruelty and exploitation. A woman caught between upper and lower classes. A woman free to choose but how much freedom does she really have?

All the cast work hard to create an atmosphere of lust and oppression. To lighten the drama, we have the likeable out-for-whatever-she-can-get Madam of the house (the very attractive Imogen French) to guide us; there’s much comic relief from Clemence (Rhianne Ross) and her bumbling Swedish Count (fine work from Matthew Grego); and sexual overtones from Marguerite’s co-worker Sophie and her Prince. Throw in the attention of lecherous males, gloating females who want the chance to be her (watch out for the detailed work from Katharine Richardson), a couple of well-choreographed catfights, some moody sax playing and some languid reclining, and you have a moody, constantly shifting study of one woman’s destruction.

Camille by Pam Gems at The Star of the Sea Theatre, Sunday 19th July 2015. Directed by Roz Riley.
Review by Relle Evans

I was moved by the play ‘Camille’ directed by Roz Riley. I had not read the play nor seen the Garbo film version and so I was unexpected for the wisdom, comparisons and calamity the lines provide. When the audience remains in their seat after the performance, you know the message was successfully delivered. I found ‘Camille’ to be a deeply sad play, of love found and lost. It is a play of suffering in the glitzy world of Paris. The Factory Space Theatre Company delivered a performance by seasoned actors, all of whom did not disappoint.

I shan’t mention all the cast but Paloma Alma as the courtesan Marguerite truly captivates the audience. Tears are shed for poor Marguerite as the audience learns more and more of the circumstances that led to her become the most famous courtesan of Paris.

The pathos of the play was well defined by the lead Robert Roworth playing Armand. Armand is a tortured man/child everyone wants to reach out to, but the audience can nly follow his downfall, helpless. Robert is memorable as Armand in scenes of passion, devotion and grief.

Imogen French always delivers a professional performance and she plays Prudence, the madame of Marguerite and also the Narrator interacting with an expectant audience. Imogen is wonderful as the madame financially dependent on Marguerite and who is hoping to pair Marguerite to the aging wealthy Russian Prince. This arrangement would presumably provide for Marguerite and Prudence.

The play has strong characters and I closely followed the portrayal by Katrina Papadopolous of Yvette the country woman from Marguerite’s past. Yvette as the country and then city maid/nurse to Marguerite was particularly poignant.

Gemma Knight is a charismatic actor who strongly depicts Sophie, a courtesan fighting for her independence and yet who has deep loyalty for Marguerite. Sophie was a well-rounded character.

There was much needed light relief provided to this sorrowful drama. Rhianne Evelyn-Ross plays Clemence a ditzy courtesan who is still wily enough to marry a caricature of a Swedish Count, well-acted by Matthew R. Grego. The one liners provided by Clemence and The Count’s droning on about the weather had the audience laughing and perhaps wishing the laughter could continue; knowing once it stopped, the unfolding drama of Marguerite’s sad death would continue.

All the actor’s performances brought together a story of human vulnerability. It is this vulnerability which caught the audience up in its spell. A beautiful, moving play.

Camille by Pam Gems at The Star of the Sea Theatre, Saturday 18th July 2015. Directed by Roz Riley.
Review by Maureen Miner Bridges, phd.

We thoroughly enjoyed Camille. The reference to Sartre at the beginning of the play set up the existentialist theme. As the interactions unfolded there was a wonderful interplay of subjectivity and objectivity, freedom and constraint, life and death. As the characters moved around each other on stage there was an elusive dance, where people-as-objects did not relate to each other directly - just passing, obliquely engaging in momentary encounters. Although it was dark, the dialogue was witty and engaging, so each moment there was interest as the characters showed that momentary (and sometime more enduring) 'self'. There was momentary hope that Camille would escape from her past as a commodity (a whore owned and exploited by Prudence) and this was emotionally-charged and fully engaging. However, we all succumbed to her inevitable despair.

The eroticism was relevant to the theme of exploitation of people as objects. For that reason, I loved the 'dance' of erotic non-engagement between the women who were not fully entwined on the floor, and with Camille and Armand on the bed. That scene on the bed had moments of real intimacy, as well as the dance, and so at that time the audience felt hope of a genuine inter-subjectivity. In short, the eroticism was necessary and compelling, and increased the poignancy of Camille's plight. No, there was no comment from our group that there was 'too much sex on stage'.

We all found it compelling because the dialogue and sense of dramatic potential for the characters kept us interested. The theme was a universal, human conflict and all of the main characters were psychologically real. The staging kept everything moving well, so it didn't feel long - just about the right time to become engaged and involved in this slice of human reality.

Overall, I found it the best play from Factory Space for a while.

Camille by Pam Gems at The Star of the Sea Theatre, Sunday 12th July 2015. Directed by Roz Riley.
Michelle Holmes (Arts Presenter, Radio Northern Beaches)

"Just arrived home, I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the performance. Prudence (Imogen French) certainly owned her part. I almost called out a bid at the auction. I was really impressed by the use of space as the actors worked from the midst of the audience as well as on stage."
Camille by Pam Gems at The Star of the Sea Theatre, Sunday 19th July 2015. Directed by Roz Riley.
"Anne Connyew" (Playwright and theatre director)
We attended the Sunday matinee performance of Camille (written by Pam Gems). We both enjoyed it. We scored it a solid 7.2/10.
I was somewhat smitten by the protagonist (Paloma Alma). She was so very easy to look at even with her thick accent that made it tricky to listen to. Her stunning physical beauty and tiny frame made her perfect for the role of the consumptive courtesan whom we all pity and wish we could help… In one scene, I actually felt terrified for Paloma when a heavyset old man clumsily grappled with her only to collapse on top of her and onto the floor. I really wondered whether she might have been crushed or injured in real life.
Re her aura…Paloma appeared rather sexual as Camille but that’s the role! It’s easy to accept/understand that level of eroticism. She was perfect. I’m pretty sure she was the main focus for both male and female audience members. Re the other courtesans; all relatively unerotic considering the parts they played. The male actors all played relatively horrid characters (even Armand)… the kind of people that give men a bad name and enflame feminist fervor… difficult to watch… difficult to like…mostly ugly…. . Armand is right when he describes himself as spiritually ugly.
I found this production sufficiently dark (I would have preferred it darker still). I found this production sufficiently erotic (I would have preferred it more erotic still).
The set was good. The lighting and sound were also good. The costumes were very impressive. (Brava Katrina Papadopoulos)

Bravo Factory Space. I’m looking forward to the next production.
Audience comments
We managed to catch the performance last Sun. and thought " Camille" was excellent and want to congratulate and thank you for all the effort obviously put in. Have recommended to others to try to catch one of remaining performances. GM

Paloma Alma was certainly sexy, imperious, vulnerable and tragic as Marguerite but the frequent difficulty in hearing her lines through her accent was frustrating. Despite this, the love scenes between the world-weary Marguerite and Robert Roworth's boyish Armand were well-directed and effective - as was the overall air of decadent eroticism which characterised the whole production. Of the supporting characters, Gemma Knight's Sophie and Keith McIlroy's Russian Prince were especially well-played. KP

Paloma Alma as Marie, made me forget I was in the theatre and I really felt long with her. The set design transported us to the boudoir and cleverly solved the issues of a deep stage. DR

I enjoyed most of the ‘journey’…ie: back-up stories, support characters, explanatory scenes etc….BUT… ultimately life is about love and maybe some redemption so I would probably have written this play with less of all that other stuff and focused more on the scenes between Marie and Armand… even though Marie must hate Armand for his father at least as much as she seems to love him. The real love was found in the pain of Sophie for Marie/Marguerite and of course in that of Bela ( a charismatic Luke Middlebrook) for Armand. RPR
Camille   photographed by John Reeves