Adelaide Fringe Review: The MILF and the Mistress

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, David Jobling, shares his thoughts on the brand new work by Jane Montgomery Griffiths, The MILF and the Mistress, at Adelaide Fringe.

The MILF and the Mistress is a new one woman play by Melbourne based writer Jane Montgomery Griffiths playing at Jack and Jill’s Basement Bar in Pirie Street, Adelaide. It is a very witty and relatable piece that tackles issues of ageing, longing and courage set in the suburbs of Melbourne.

The main character is Ali who arrives on stage immediately presenting as a familiar everywoman two thirds of the way through her life. She holds up a knot formed with red rope and undoes it in a heartbeat explaining, it isn’t magic she’s doing here and yet there is a touch of magic in the story she starts to tell of her life, her kids, her wife and her feeling of life being comfortably stable.

Jennifer Vuletic in the role of Ali is completely engaging from the start as she shares various amusing facts about who she is and what she is, a high school English teacher with two boys in their teens, a loving wife and basically a comfortable life. Then her longings start to show, and mild dissatisfactions with her status quo emerge.

Ali and her wife have lived the rainbow dream, raised their eldest son to be a well-adjusted young man, they’re now waiting for the second son to emerge from puberty and detach from his X-Box, but they’re confidant he too will work out fine, that’s not where the problem Ali senses is, it’s in her own predicament of feeling under-stimulated, longing for something more.

The production, directed by Virginia Proud moves along at a steady pace and utilises the small stage very well with simple choreography and scene changes that place us in a night club, a barbeque and a Dominatrices parlour with clear shifts in atmosphere provided by the lighting and sound, but particularly provided by Vuletic who makes mercurial shifts into what ultimately becomes the solution to Ali’s sense of lacking.

Although she is a Lesbian, Ali really represents everyone in the sense that she has a choice to make about her life. It isn’t a soap-opera style solution that she pines for either, it’s a step in a direction she thinks she may like to take. Ali has been leaning towards it, but so far hasn’t had the courage to budge out of her comfort zone. Then she shifts, she takes that one step and then another and another.

There’s a scene where Ali holds a box containing a ‘one size fits all outfit’ that struck me as the antithesis of Pandora’s Box, instead of it unleashing tragedy and destruction it provides Ali with a means to go exploring and ultimately to find what she has been looking for.

Once the seat of Ali’s womanhood is raised up as high as she can place it, and it’s given a firm slap by a friendly specialist, everything starts to come together in her inner life.

Yes, I’m being deliberately coy and not giving too much away because I feel that would spoil the enjoyment of this production. It isn’t a vulgar play and you’re likely to see more sexually explicit imagery at one of the many Adelaide Fringe burlesque shows than here in this discerningly raunchy production.

The MILF and the Mistress is definitely unequivocally about sexual discovery but in the way ‘Grace and Frankie’ on Netflix is explicit. Don’t come along expecting to see Madonna cracking a whip over hot slaves in chains. The Maggie Gyllenhaal/James Spader film Secretary is referenced and there are depictions of sexual play which are beautifully done. The combination of director actor and text expertly illuminate situations that could otherwise seem gauche and exploitative.

Sex-positive messages are embedded in the text and an intelligent outlook is discovered, so the play remains consistently amusing, witty and enjoyable throughout, particularly with an actor as gifted at communicating honestly about intimacy to an audience as Vuletic is; it’s actually a real tonic. No screaming, no snivelling, no woe is me kitchen sink drama, it is evenhanded, honest and satisfying, The MILF and the Mistress hits just the right spot.

The MILF and the Mistress

until Sunday 10th of March

Jack & Jill’s Basement Bar, Adelaide


adelaidefringe.com.au

milfandthemistress.com

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