And then there’s Glover’s mother. “She and her second husband were very eccentric. They had a collection of teddy bears around the house that they used to dress and would bring them out and talk to them,” Oswald says. “Let’s just say when she was buried the teddies were there.”
In the coffin?
Debra will also talk in the monologue about eventually losing her virginity. The italics are hers. It was on her teenage bucket list.
“I wasn’t that old but I thought I was. I thought I was the only person in Australia over the age of 16 who was still a virgin. So I had to deal with it,” she says. “It involved a guy I picked up at Baptist Youth Fellowship.
“I had a list of activities that I wanted to try that I had learnt about from Cleo magazine. I was very organised.”
Can she remember any dialogue she wrote for Bananas in Pyjamas? “That was a long time ago. I am enormously old.”
Of the one-woman show, she says, “People keep saying to me, ‘Oh, you are so brave,’ and that makes me more nervous.
“I’ve had my mother-in-law speak to me through teddies, I have incurred the wrath of Australia for killing Patrick, a lusted-after character, so I can handle this. I am an old dame. I can do it.”
“I have been a full-time writer for 40 years and I’ve never done a real job, so this is it. I am sort of testing the idea of whether it is worth continuing [writing] but in a lighthearted and joyful way.”
Does she practise the monologue on Glover and does he enjoy hearing about her losing her virginity?
Laughter. “I do practise it on him. We both read each other’s material. Look, that man has been writing about me and our children in the newspaper for 20-something years. I think it is fine for me to tell a few tales,” she says.
“In our family we have no shame, we have no filters, no enigma. I think a lot of people like the idea of an older woman just having a go. Obviously I am terrified. I am used to being in my own house writing in my trackie dacks.”
So a new frock and some lippy for the one-woman premiere?
“Calm down. Nothing that elaborate.”
Is There Something Wrong With That Lady? is at the Griffin Theatre Company from March 31.
Tim Barlass is a Senior Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald