Saturday, December 16, 2017


Adapted by Joe Landry from the screenplay of the 1946 movie
Directed by James Scott
Honest Puck Theatre at the CADA Theatre, Fyshwick to 23 December

Reviewed by Len Power 14 December 2017

Frank Capra’s ‘It's A Wonderful Life’ is considered one of the most critically acclaimed films ever made.

It ranked as number 11 on the American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the 100 best American films.  Initially released in 1946, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, it’s a sentimental favourite that still works despite its age.

Adapted as a radio play by Joe Landry, it’s a great showcase for Honest Puck Theatre’s group of talented performers from the Canberra Academy Of Dramatic Art.

Everyone in this excellent ensemble gives sharply etched, truthful characterizations in this fast-moving and visually clever production directed by James Scott.

The cast of six – Hayden Splitt, Katherine Berry, Monica Engel, Colin Giles, Michael Ubrihien and James Scott - play a multitude of believable characters from small town America.  Accents are well-maintained and each cast member is able to move from character to character with lightning speed.

Left to Right: Hayden Splitt, Colin Giles, Monica Engel, Katharine Berry.  Background: Michael Ubrihien
The fun of watching a radio play performed is to see the actors moving swiftly between microphones as different characters and observing how sound effects are incorporated into the show for atmosphere.

Of course, in real radio most people only heard the show over the air and their imagination did the rest.  Close your eyes for a few minutes during this production and you’ll have a completely different and fascinating experience.

James Scott’s direction for this work is excellent.  It runs at the right pace with in-depth characterizations and a strong visual sense as well as fine sound design.  The cast members winking and smiling at the audience when not actually performing at the microphone gave the show a recording studio reality.

‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ is a favourite movie for many people.  It works wonderfully as a radio play, too.

Photo by Helen Musa
This review was first published in the Canberra City News digital edition of 15 December 2017.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7’s new ‘On Stage’ program on Mondays from 3.30pm and on ‘Artcetera’ from 9.00am on Saturdays.