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Tag Archives: Martin Searles

Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen’s novels don’t appeal to me greatly, but the quality of her wit is superb. Although Sense and Sensibilityis not a novel that readily lends itself to a dramatic adaptation, Canberra’s own Jodi McAlister has done a fine job of condensing Austen’s story into two hours of engaging stagework.

One of the most memorable characteristics of Austen’s work is the importance of the subtext, and the many paradoxes that are inherent in such a context. Drama, of course, thrives on paradox and subtext, but the sheer volume of these found in Austen’s work has been the downfall of many dramatisations of her stories. In this production, I think both Jodi McAlister and Liz Bradley are to be commended for their work in focusing the attention and keeping the journey of the characters paramount.
A great performance by the cast was punctuated by three stellar performers in the roles of the three Dashwood sisters. Alex de Totth, Ylaria Rogers and Nicola Grear are most notable in the degree to which they are able to balance the humour of their roles with the truth of their characters’ experiences. This is critical to Austen’s stories, and the success of this production owes much to these three performers.
I have never been a great fan of Austen, but have always enjoyed the quality and intensity of her satire, and am very pleased that this production managed to express it so well.
 

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The Goat, or Who is Sylvia

I have long admired the work of Edward Albee. He’s pretty funny, for an American. And Moonlight’s production of The Goat, or Who is Sylvia was by far the most enjoyable thing I have seen on stage in Canberra since Rep did Noises Off last year. Wall to wall laughs were delivered by a talented cast under the direction of Bridget Balodis, who obviously understands timing and has an excellent command of the dramatic fluctuations of Albee’s work.

The play centres on the infidelity of Martin, and its impact on his small family. Jerry Hearn was assigned a difficult task in the role of Martin; to play a dramatic role in a comedy and do it well is an accomplishment in itself. Christa de Jager also toed the line very carefully between the intense drama of her role, and its comic one-liners. Sam Yeo, playing their son Billy, had a difficult time keeping a straight face as he began his hilarious journey, but his energy and timing, like that of the rest of the cast, was superb.

In all, a great night out. It was nice to be back in my old stomping ground of the ANU Drama Lab, but I was very disappointed with the enormous new seating: in order to avoid DVT I had to sit on an angle with my legs in the aisle, and crane my neck around to see the stage. The designers obviously didn’t consider the fact that many Australians are taller than a metre, or maybe they only expected children to be coming…

 

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