Monday, October 21, 2013

A MONTH OF SUNDAYS

Written by Bob Larbey
Directed by Anne Somes
Free Rain
Courtyard Theatre, Canberra Theatre Centre
18 October to 3 November, 2013

Review by Len Power 18 October 2013


Where did the years go?  If you’re asking yourself that, ‘A Month Of Sundays’ will resonate strongly with you.  Bob Larbey’s 1985 play about two elderly men in an old persons’ home focuses on two first Sundays of the month and the regular but uneasy visits of the daughter and son-in-law of one of them.  A play with serious intent, it is laced with black humour and, while the subject matter is confronting, it is very entertaining.

This production, directed by Anne Somes, has a  cast of six excellent Canberra actors.  In the main role of Cooper, Graham Robertson is very moving as the elderly man who voluntarily left his family to avoid the indignity of depending on them.  Robertson doesn’t play safe with a sentimental reading of this role.  He is very amusing but also unpleasant and sarcastic to those around him.  It’s a powerful and memorable performance.  Oliver Baudert as Aylott, the other elderly resident is very touching in the contrasting role of a man on the brink of ageing mental issues.

A standout in the cast is Joanna Richards in a beautifully realized performance as the young nurse who cares for Cooper more than is professionally required.  Micki Beckett brings extraordinary depth to her role as the cleaner, Mrs Baker.  She makes you feel that you know this woman.  Lainie Hart is excellent as the daughter struggling to deal with the ageing of her father and Paul Jackson gives one of his best performances as a son-in-law who tries to make the best of an uncomfortable situation.

The set is a clever design by Steve and Susie Walsh.  It is appropriately antiseptic and cold with clear plastic and glass everywhere, even the toilet.  Lighting design by Tanya Gruber complements the coldness of the set and the blue lighting of the scene changes added to the atmosphere.  Costumes by Fiona Leach were just right for each of the characters.  The well-chosen songs playing during the breaks were compiled by Steve Walsh and Tanya Gruber.

Anne Somes has coaxed excellent performances from everyone and it’s a production to be admired in all aspects.  It plays at a deliberate pace which is necessary but it does feel a bit long at times.  It’s nearly thirty years since it was first presented in London so maybe we’re just getting too used to recent plays that tend to be much shorter.  That shouldn’t put you off, though.  It’s an excellent, thought-provoking play with great performances and it is very well directed.

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ program (5.00 to 6.30pm) on Sunday 20 October 2013.

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