Mary Coustas gives a personal masterclass at iconic Sydney Opera House

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Acclaimed actress and comedian Mary Coustas gave a ''personal masterclass'' and had the audience in the ''palm of her hands for 65 minutes'',  in her This Is Personal show at the Sydney Opera House which concluded on Sunday, writes Michelle Sutton in Theatre Travels.

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Photo: Cassandra Hannagan

"In 2022 Australia where ethnic women are still so rarely given the opportunity to shine, it is as relevant and inspiring as ever to witness the absolute trailblazing creative force of nature that is Mary Coustas. To meet and spend just over an hour with the real person behind the beloved caricature of Effie is an enjoyable and revelatory experience. She is astoundingly open, inviting and generous with the audience. It is a credit to the collaboration of Coustas and director Blazey Best that the one-woman-show feels dynamic and captivating at all times." writes Sutton.

This Is Personal is a candid and intimate one woman show that combines the coarse tapestry of Coustas’ migrant upbringing in Melbourne’s suburbs and her recent experience of motherhood.

Directed by Blazey Best (Well Behaved Women, Sensitive Guys, Kings for Pigs), Mary addressed questions from her inquisitive daughter, her answers forcing her to reflect on what she can offer from her own life experience… and more importantly what she can’t.

To help, the audience met the characters from Mary’s family who have shaped her life – including Mary’s younger self who created the suit of armour we’ve come to know as “Effie”.

Mary Coustas has starred in multiple national tours (Wogs Out of Work, Effie the Virgin Bride) and brought powerhouse persona Effie into living rooms around Australia in the iconic sitcom Acropolis Now (for which she was awarded a Logie for Most Popular Comedy Personality in 1993) and Greeks on The Roof (Seven Network). Coustas is the author of Effie’s Guide to Being Up Yourself and critically acclaimed memoir All I Know.

Laced with Coustas’ comedic flair, This Is Personal was a kaleidoscopic exploration of love, loss, laughter and fear, and how all four come to define us.

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Photo: Cassandra Hannagan

‘This Is Personal’ is an absolute masterclass in theatrical storytelling. Mary Coustas is a seasoned pro and it shows in every minute that she knocks it out of the park at the Sydney Opera House. What a joy and a privilege it is to see a woman “of a certain age” absolutely owning her experience, creativity, talent, wisdom and most of all her inherited gift “to find the funny” on the famed Sydney Opera House stage, concludes Sutton.