Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica, Ensemble Theatre | Review

Don’t have time to read the full review? Click here for a quick summary of the who, what, where and wine of this production.

A rom-com comes to life on stage in Glenn Hazeldine and Georgie Parker’s sparkling reprisal of their 2010 performances. This updated David Williamson social comedy is a joy to experience.

Gary and Monica meet at a time when they are each grappling with uncomfortable truths and realities. Monica is doing the home reno equivalent of getting bangs after a breakup, decorating her kitchen, after being forced to give up playing violin in the in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra due to tendonitis. Gary, meanwhile, is running from mistakes he made as a husband and father by inventing a new life for himself as an ‘architectural consultant’ (IKEA kitchen installer) and larger-than-life radio personality Rhinestone Rex. Both find escape, solace and joy in music – her classical, him country. After clashing in the close quarters of Monica’s home over control of the sole music player, sharing their favourite styles and tunes opens the door to deeper conversations, friendship, and (spoiler!) love.

Under the direction of Mark Kilmurry, this two-hander gets to the heart of the experiences of people who are a little lost in their lives, and seeks to show that the smallest opportunities for human connection can unite even the most polarised personalities. Sound design by Daryl Wallis creates a fun and flirty back-and-forth between Gary and Monica as they play their favourite songs to each other and begin to understand each other better, and given its genuine message, it’s no wonder that this story has made its way back to the stage.

Georgie Parker is relatable as a woman trying to regain stability in her life, presenting as self-assured and independent to others, but intensely vulnerable alone. Set design and costuming by Veronique Benett also offers considerable insight into Monica, her polished home and fashionable yet relaxed clothing representative of a woman used to having it all together.

Glenn Hazeldine’s Gary is the guy we all know who spends the whole party talking about accomplished women only in the context of whether he would date them, and bragging about exploits too good to be true. Monica’s disdain at his stories of past fame and refusal to be disrespected by him – or his radio-ego Rex – forces Gary to grow up. As a bonus, Monica’s malicious satisfaction at catching Rex soliloquising about her on the radio is deliciously entertaining, as you wait with eager anticipation for the confrontation and banter to come.

The fast-paced banter, musical trivia and blossoming love story left audiences beaming in 2010, and I’m so glad to have had to chance to experience its 2023 reprisal. Make sure not to miss the opportunity – it might even tempt you to test out a new Spotify playlist – enjoy!

Purchase your ticket to Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica here.

Barbera | Wine Pairing

There’s a scene in Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica in which Monica and Gary share a Pinot Noir – Gary is not a fan. So, I’ve chosen this Barbera to – fittingly, I think, for this story – stretch his tastes. Barbera is a fairly lightweight red, with lots of dark fruits like blackberries upfront and a hint of spice layered underneath, which should be more palatable for someone new to reds.

My Pick: Lingo 2021 Barbera, Adelaide Hills, SA

Flush with notes of blackberry and cassis, or candied blueberry, with subtle notes of pepper and velvety tannin, this is a Barbera comfortable being paired with a gourmet ragu or a meatlovers pizza – perfect for couples with vastly different tastes. See what I did there?

Purchase a bottle for $18 here.

Rhinestone Rex and Miss Monica, Ensemble Theatre | Tasting Notes

Aussie Season10 Mar to 29 Apr 2023, Ensemble Theatre, Sydney NSW
Ticket $$38-80
WriterDavid Williamson
DirectorMark Kilmurry
Theatre Type & GenreRomantic comedy
See it if you likemusical banter, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Other Info
Wine PairingBarbera
Criteria for Wine PairingEasy-drinking red – fruit forward, lightweight