Sometimes I see a play which is so wonderful and so well done that I am surprised! The latest play at the Blood Moon Theatre ( in the World Bar) is a perfect example. Morgan Stern is a one man show written by the talented Gina Schien (she wrote a glorious play, Punter’s Siren which we saw at the same venue). It is performed by a relatively ‘unknown’ actor Graeme Rhodes. He has performed in many productions over several decades but in this play he is remarkable. He is able to create several characters ,each with distinctive voices and facial characteristics, without any confusion to the audience; the complex story is beautifully realised over ninety minutes that sails past too quickly.I hope never to miss him in further plays because his talent is enormous. The theme is mental health but this play has many layers and there is a marvelous fantasy element which ensures that it is not excessively gritty. The direction by Goldele Rayment must also be commended because the flow is seamless, lighting and sound enhance the text, and she has made excellent use of this space. I gave this a standing ovation. Who needs off broadway?
As you may know, there was a Super Moon event this week where, in many parts of the world, the early evening moon appeared as a huge orb, more than twice it normal size.Such an event happens barely twice per century. The relevance for Shadow Box, the latest play at the Old Fitzroy Theatre is that this play has a large cast, and it is a group of such renowned, brilliant actors that it may not happen again in this century!
Shadow Box is a beautiful, eloquent play, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1977. It tackles the theme of dying, using a collage of different characters facing death, but of course it embraces many themes and one can reflect upon the concepts which emerge for months after seeing it.
This production is truly exquisite. The set is extraordinary- designed by recent NIDA graduate Isabel Hudson. The director, Kim Hardwick and producer Dino Dimitriadis have done a remarkable job in creating a huge work within the diminutive Old Fitz theatre space.
And of course, any play is largely about the actors. This Super Moon cast includes Anthony Gooley, Fiona Press, Mark Lee, Jeanette Cronin,Ella Prince, Tim Mcgarry, Kate Raison Simon Thomson, and Jackson Blair-West. I have seen several of these actors in many productions, but in this play I feel that they were at the top of their creativity. I have never seen such a collection of virtuosity en masse. Anthony Gooley for example, who won best actor for The Libertine- a real womaniser- is completely convincing as the gay lover of a dying writer. Mark Lee is marvelous as Joe; his acting is effortless. He is an artist who seems to be internally illuminated whenever he is on stage. His stage wife Jeanette is equally strong. Fiona Press is an actor who has been working for over thirty years. Her portrayal of the blind, demented Felicity is heartbreaking- voice and body are perfectly honed to the task. The other cast members are equally powerful, and create a production that is beyond compare in 2016.
The next Super moon is more than thirty years away… do not miss this play!!