Andrea Moor is back to playing her favourite game – dress-ups. The Queensland-born actor, theatre director, teacher and voice-over artist says the opportunity to tackle multiple roles in a stageplay is like having all her Christmases come at once.
“In Pygmalion Andrea played three different roles and loved it. It’s always fun playing with the chameleon side of this acting business.”
In Queensland Theatre Company’s upcoming production of Noel Coward’s Design for Living, Moor plays a London journalist “whose gender is yet to be decided”, and a rich New York socialite. “One’s in the first half of the play, the other’s in the second, so I’ve lots of down time…” and then she confesses with a laugh, “I’ve taken up knitting.”
Coward’s subtle comedy about a muddled ménage à trois was written in 1932; scandalously risqué for its time, certainly too lewd for British audiences, and so the British playwright opened his new work on the Broadway stage in 1933. At the heart of Design for Living is the complicated three-way relationship of its central characters: interior designer Gilda (Kellie Lazarus) who lives with painter Otto (Jason Klarwein, and Lazarus’s real-life partner) and author Leo (Tama Matheson).
“It’s quite clear she sleeps with both men and…” Moor stops short of filling in the details… “they say that Coward never ‘came out’ and similarly in this play a lot more goes on than what we see – it’s inferred. Here are three people trying something totally different which I think is still relevant today because we live in a pretty straight conservative society,” she says, reflecting on how Brisbane has changed in the past 30 years. “It’s such a different place today. The whole artistic scene is so exciting.”
In the late 70s the teenage Moor was privy to the vibrant music subculture and political activism that was hard-pressed under the thumb of the oppressive Bjelke-Petersen government. “I left Brisbane in 1979 because of the strong politicising in the theatre scene. I was so green but it was a good time to get a bit of life experience.”
She packed her bags for London and a year later returned to Sydney to continue her acting studies at NIDA. Barely a few days out of graduation, she started rehearsals in a play that would become an Australian classic – Michael Gow’s Away. Moor built up an impressive CV of theatre and television roles and since returning to Brisbane in 2003 her teaching and directing skills have been in high demand. She won praise for the tangible sexuality instilled in this year’s production of Venus in Fur, a smart two-hander direct from the Broadway stage that Moor directed for QTC.
“When I moved back to Brisbane I was most struck by how many fabulous actors there are up here. The quality of work is fantastic and I love the sense of community in Brisbane where there’s this attitude that if you don’t get the job you’re pleased that one of your friends got it.”
Design for Living, Playhouse, QPAC 24 October – 10 November (previews commence 19 October). Tickets at queenslandtheatre.com.au or phone 136 246 *booking fees apply.