The Nona Show - theatre

Thursday-Sunday, July 25-27 7pm, 28 3pm
San Miguel Playhouse, Av. Independencia 82

The Nona Show - theatre

Who is Nona Appeby? By Irma Kirkenstein

Last Winter Nona Appleby made her debut to sold-out houses in a too short season at the Playhouse. Hailing from productions in New York City and Washington, DC, Nona charmed local audiences with “The World According to Nona Appleby.”Nona returns to San Miguel this July with a brand new show, “The Nona Show” prior to preparing for her Australian tour (2021).

I spoke to cartoonist/performer Victoria Roberts about the genesis of her character, Nona, an Australian octogenarian.

Roberts started working weekends as a nurse’s aide at Mosman Nursing Home, when she was sixteen. “My mother and I had moved to Sydney from Mexico City and we were not as well offas in the old days, when we lived in Lomas Chapultepec.”

“it was terrifying work at first. I swore that I would become a health freak and I would not get old. I just wouldn’t. No,” explains Roberts.

Three years on, instead of sadness, she had her favourites. Queenie who when `Victoria struggled to pull up her step-ins after her shower with talcum powder, telling her step-ins were no longer “in”, replied “I feel naked without them.’

Queenie tried to escape out the window one night, so was restrained, but managed to get free. When Victoria’s friend Vanessa, who was on night duty, asked Queenie how she did it, she answered “I’m Houdini’s daughter, darling.”

And a second Queenie who shared a room with her adoring husband Monte. “I never bought her a piano,” he said, “ I should have bought her a piano.” They had been through the depression and were accustomed to thrift.

When she sold her first weekly cartoon strip “My Sunday” to Nation Review, an Australian national tabloid much like The Village Voice, she was able to quit work at Mosman.

“What happened next I can’t explain,” says Roberts. She started to draw nude dancing ladies. She stayed up late and listened to “Music to Midnight” on ABC radio, that played jazz. Erroll Garner, MJQ, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck. The ladies danced to the music. They were nudists, the nature and health sort, not rude nudes. Eventually the ladies who did not wear glasses became one lady who did. Nona Appleby (née Molesworth) was born.

Victoria could “do” Nona, her Australian octogenarian, because she had been expertly coached by the Queenies at Mosman Nursing Home.

But what to do with Nona? By now Victoria was in New York, working for The New Yorker. Nona always had more dialogue than any of VR’s other characters-too many words for the magazine. So she wrote a show for her.

Canadian director Louise Fagan took Nona in tow and before she knew it designer Bonnie Deakin and wigmaker Maloo Veal had measured her and “created” Nona on stage.

“I had performed in “experimental” theatre at venues in downtown New York, P.S. 122, HERE. But there was nothing experimental about Nona. Nona is a star!“ recalls Roberts.

Nona toured to London, Ontario first and then on to Washington and New York City.

“I haven’t figured this out,” says Roberts, fondly, ‘ but Nona is smarter than I am. And funnier. And she can fly. I am loath to call her my “creation.” Mostly, I work for her.”

The Nona Show -by Victoria Roberts


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