Revlon & Razor Wire

LA MAMA: A performed memoir of one woman’s experience of incarceration in a maximum security prison.
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Revlon & Razor Wire is an honest and intimate memoir about life inside a Victorian maximum security women’s prison, and all the heartache, loss and courage that accompanies such an experience.

Written and performed by Kerry Tucker, who spent nearly five years inside for committing a corporate crime, we are walked through her journey from the moment she was incarcerated to the moment of her release.

The real challenge for any real life story-cum-theatre piece, of course, is how to extract the highlights – and lowlights, in this case – of one person’s life and condense them all into 50 minutes. But with the expert assistance of director Chris Sinclair, Tucker was able to do just that.

While it is obvious that Kerry Tucker is not a seasoned actor – she is more used to standing in front of a lectern delivering speeches than standing in front of a theatre audience delivering lines – with the use of humour, a well crafted script, props and lighting, she was able to cross this line and make her debut as a performer.

Of course everybody wants to know what life is really like on the inside, and sharing her stories about the endless ‘cast of characters’ that Tucker came to know was one of the highlights of her performance. First there was ‘Ros’ – the giant of a woman with a borderline personality disorder – and then there was ‘Angel’ – the girl with mild Down’s Syndrome who suffered from anxiety and sucked her lips like a goldfish for hours on end.

The gut-wrenching part of Revlon & Razor Wire is that these two women could easily be replaced by a whole host of others with similar psychological issues and damaged backgrounds, all wanting some kind of love and attention. It was lucky for them that Tucker was eventually made a ‘Lead Peer Worker’ and was there to provide such support to the best of her ability.

Of course another tragic part of being incarcerated is the desensitization to violence and the separation of reality that goes hand in hand with isolation from family, friends and society at large. Tucker was no stranger to these feelings, especially when it came to her two young daughters and their many missed Christmases; the death of her mother and the inability to attend her funeral; and the blasé attitude she developed to crimes such as murder.

On the other hand, Tucker is an exception in more ways than one, and a success in her own right. She did her five years, learnt from her experiences, completed a Master of Arts while in prison, and even managed to write a children’s book titled Rhiannon and Sasha visit Mum. She is now undertaking her PhD, is a popular key speaker at many seminars, and was even featured on Australian Story in 2010 – much to the surprise of her new housemates.

Accompanied by the beautiful voice and guitar playing of Emma Ten Eyck, Revlon & Razor Wire sees a hardened woman enter a chrysalis of pain, regret, and sadness only to emerge filled with life, joy and a new lease on life. Given the opportunity to perform this piece of theatre more, there is no doubt that Kerry Tucker will gain more confidence as a performer and will be well received by theatre lovers everywhere.

Rating: Four stars

Revlon and Razor Wire: a Performed Memoir
Written & Performed by Kerry Tucker
Directed by Chris Sinclair
Original Music written and performed by Emma Ten Eyck

La Mama Courthouse Theatre, Carlton
August 24 – 28

Melynda von Derksen
About the Author
Melynda is a Melbourne based freelance photographer, arts manager and fashion stylist who enjoys creating her own projects and reinventing herself on a continual basis. Graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1996 where she majored in technical production in theatre, she has worked as a lighting designer, stage manager and theatre all rounder for many of Melbourne's best known creative companies. Eager to expand on her professional career, in 2004 she undertook a post graduate degree in arts management at the University of Melbourne. Since then she has worked in the area of arts administration and has used her skills to coordinate many successful cabaret events around town. As well as being part of the La Mama family for almost a decade, she continues to stick her finger in every type of creative pie that life has to offer. She is currently researching and writing a photographic book based on the history of the Melbourne Punk scene (1977 - onwards), which she hopes will be published in the next few years.