"Good fences make good neighbours" wrote poet Robert Frost. According to playwright and lawyer Tony Laumberg it all depends on the type of fence.
He spoke to Aviva Bard.

Making a name for himself with last year's hit play Unsolicited Male, Tony Laumberg is back at Newtown's Edge Theatre with his latest offering, The Great Divide.

Using two characters from his first play, The Great Divide is effectively a spin-off.
It tells the humorous tale of a lawyer and his wife who find their conservative, suburban life in leafy St Ives transformed when a young Greek couple move in next-door and want to replace the dividing fence.

Drawing inspiration from a Greek colleague's neighbourly dispute, Laumberg sees playwriting as an outlet, enjoying making people laugh.
A former stand-up comedian, the 40-something Laumberg performed at Sydney's Comedy Store and at clubs and pubs around the city doing impressions, singing and using some "blue material".

"I was a jack-of-all-trades when it came to comedy. I was a nice Jewish boy doing things a nice Jewish boy wouldn't normally do." he added, describing himself as a split personality.
Married and a father of two, Laumberg was tentative when asked if he would give up law for a full-time comedy gig.
"It all depends on my situation, I make my living out of law, and amusement out of writing. If a certain situation came up that occupied me full-time, I'd consider it. At this stage I have to keep my feet on the ground."
Initially inspired by Neil Simon, Laumberg has since developed his own style of writing.

"It's very close to the Sydney scene. Sydney people enjoy it. But it could play in Melbourne, because of the greek population there.
While The Great Divide only reaches the stage this month, Lamberg has already written his third play, in which he breaks with his established tradition.
Called The Lucky One, he parts from his usual comedy genre with a script based on interviews with his father, a Holocaust survivor, on his experiences in the war.

The play also examines the effect which the six month interview had on their relationship.

Although not all his plays have dealt directly with Jewish themes, Laumberg explains that "any theme coming out of my mind is going to be influenced by a Jewish background" and a father who was a "huge inspiration in terms of comedy".

Directed by Richard Cotter, The Great Divide runs from August 20 to September 14 at Newtown's Edge Theatre.
Australian Jewish News
8 August 2003
A farce that knows no boundaries
by Carol Payne

Two Northside actors will share the bill in The Great Divide - a play that lifts the lid off neighbourly disputes in our own St Ives - to open at The Edge Theatre, Newtown on August 22.

Neutral Bay's Mark McCann and Willoughby Girl's High School drama teacher Tricia Youlden will play a married couple who face hilarious warfare with Greek neighbours over their boundary fence.

Mark graduated from the Ensemble Acting Studios in 1988, aged 36.

Five years ago, he gaved up his accountancy practice to pursue acting fulltime - and he has no regrets.
Recent roles include the TV series All Saints, in which he played an aggrieved male patient who is sent for a mammogram because hospital staff cannot read his doctor's directions for a myleogram.

In the recently released film, The Night We Called It A Day, about Frank Sinatra's infamous 1974 Sydney visit, he plays one of the journalists who antagonised Sinatra with idiotic questions.
Of all his roles, The Great Divide cuts closest to home.
"The Great Divide" is actually a sequel to Tony Laumberg's earlier play, Unsolicited Male," he said.
"Unsolicited Male is about a St Ives couple, Henry and Margaret Crowley, at an hilarious dinner party in the Eastern suburbs.
Centre stage... Northside actors Tricia Youlden and Mark McCann will star in the The Great Divide.
"Henry is a wealthy senior partner in a law firm, who basically suffers from high self-esteem, and Margarert is his boozy wife."

Playwright Tony Laumberg, himself a lawyer as well as a successful comedian and writer, liked Henry and Margaret so much, he's written this spin-off play about them."In The Great Divide Henry and Margaret find their quiet, conservative lives turned upside down when a lively young Greek couple move in next door and want to replace the dividing fence," he said.

"The neighbour, Archimedes - played by Manny Katts, and his wife Athena, played by Tula Tzoras - take Henry to court only to find a Greek magistrate. Henry makes a complete fool of himself.
"Later the two couples try to bury the hatchet at a dinner party but everything explodes and the two women leave home - seeking refuge in The Holiday Inn, Coogee which appals the snobbish Henry."

The Great Divide will play at The Edge Theatre Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm, from August 20-September 14. Adults $24, concessions $18. Bookings MCA Ticketing, 96435 1611 or online: www.mca-tix.com.

Manny Katts is one half of a young Greek couple that turns life upside down in The Great Divide.

This hilarious comedy by Tony Laumberg, a spin-off from his 2003 hit Unsolicited Male, sees its two most popular characters return to face their greatest challenge yet.

In The Great Divide, Henry Crowley, senior partner of a big city law firm and his boozy wife find their quiet, suburban life is thrown into chaos when a lively Greek couple move next door and immediately want to replace the dividing fence.

Katts said what starts out as an argument over a fence soon turns into an exploration of relationships.

The Great Divide runs until September 14 at Newtown's Edge Theatre. Bookings: 9645 1611.

- Raylene Bliss