Families. Like it or not, you’re stuck. Like honeycomb to teeth, you’re stuck with memories, stories and questions that remain forever unresolved. Last year, we glimpsed into Paul Capsis’ Maltese family tree in another one-man show Angela’s Kitchen at the SBW Stables Theatre. This year, in an intimate Old Fitzroy Theatre, we are welcomed into the home of Lloyd Beckmann Stitz – beekeeper, cordial host and grandfather to performer of the play, Tim Stitz. Through the science of bees, Lloyd takes us through his life, especially the bits that are too sticky to battle through.
Once you’ve entered the Lloyd world, there’s really no need to be shy. Help yourself to the bikkies and pretzels. Wine or beer? It’s up to you. Cozy up and soak in Lloyd’s warmth. A taste of honey on your lips, smell of talc in the air, sight of floral lamp shades, sound of Lloyd’s excitable voice and a squeeze of your shoulder whenever the old man comes around to tell you his bee tale. These are all part of the Lloyd Beckmann sensory tour package.
Just leave the big, red chair empty. Because when the going gets tough, that’s where the hardy man slumps. A slump so unnatural to this sunny Queenslander, he pushes his woes deep down. Be it death, disease or bankruptcy, “you gotta stop that thing up there,” he says pointing to his temple. “You gotta keep smiling.”
Tim Stitz’s portrayal of his grandfather on stage is uncanny. His verbal rhythm, inflection and whistle combined with a hurried limp only an Aussie battler with a godly work ethic can pull off, plus an endearing incessancy to spell out words transforms Stitz the actor into older Stitz, the character. Just watch the audience’s body language change. No longer are they in a theatre – they are respectful, attentive and polite in the presence of grandfather Stitz.
Don’t fret too much if you are not a big fan of “interactive theatre”. Lloyd is kind and you can easily fade into the dark back seats if you wish, but if you want to sample some of Lloyd’s famed honey and paw paws, pull up a stool, drop your chin on your palms and lose yourself in grandpa’s story.
Memories, stories, nostalgia and mystery. You’ll never know the full narrative of your family but like Stitz’s final recording of his grandfather’s actual voice, you’ll never stop replaying it. (Published in Time Out Sydney, July)
Until Jul 25, Old Fitzroy Theatre, cnr Cathedral St & Dowling St, Woolloomooloo, $21-$33, 9365 3848, rocksurfers.org