|Rachel Howard as Rufus Torrent - Bronte Batham as Bernie in "The Torrents" - in the Mill Theatre
Lexi Sekuless – Designed by Victoria Hopkins
designed by Stefan Wronski – Prop design by Tracy Cui
Lexi Sekuless Productions
The Mill Theatre – Dairy Road 23rd
November – 3rd December 2022.
on 24th November reviewed by Bill Stephens.
The birth of
a new theatre in Canberra’s burgeoning performing arts scene is something to
applaud. Lexi Sekuless has certainly earned whatever applause comes her
way for her bravery in establishing the brand new Mill Theatre in the Dairy
Road precinct, which although tiny, already possesses a cosy inviting
to launch her new theatre with “The Torrents”, an obscure play by a female
playwright, Oriel Gray, was also applause-worthy, because this play, which was voted
Best Play by the 1955 Playwright’s Advisory Board, alongside Ray Lawler’s “Summer
of the Seventeenth Doll”, has gained a certain notoriety for never having achieved
anywhere near the success of Lawler’s
play. So the opportunity to finally see a production of “The Torrents” offered
a compelling attraction.
However, the decision to present this play with an all-female cast is curious, particularly given that much of the play is concerned with exploring the tensions caused by the employment of a female reporter in a newspaper where the rest of the employees are male.
|Heidi Silberman as John Manson in "The Torrents"
Set in the
second half of the 19th century, “The Torrents” takes place in a
newspaper office of a country town built around gold-mining. When the gold
begins to run out, a suggestion that the town considers developing agriculture
as a buffer to the diminishing gold reserves is resisted by the local council,
especially the local mayor, who is also the financier of the newspaper.
of the newspaper, Rufus Torrent (Rachel Howard) finds himself in an awkward
situation with his desire to present both sides of the hotly contested argument
fairly. His situation is exacerbated by the arrival of a new reporter,
J.G.Milford, who, unexpectedly, turns out to be a woman. Her presence causes
tensions among his all-male workforce.
One can only
wonder what the playwright might have thought of having her play promoted as an
Australian screwball comedy. Also what would be gained by having it performed by
an all-female cast?
there are a few amusing moments, based on this production, the play could
hardly be described as a comedy, screwball or otherwise. Therefore, whatever
its merits, they are hard to recognise when it is performed rather like a panto presented in
an all-girls school with scenes separated by prettily harmonised songs with
largely unintelligible lyrics.
|Kat Smalley as Ben Torrent in "The Torrents"
The only exceptions
being Jasmin Shojai, as local lass, Gwynne Thomas, who’s engaged to the editor’s
son, Ben Torrent (Kat Smalley) but decked out in spectacular wearable art which
suggests she’s really Lola Montez.
|Lexie Sekuless as J.G.Milford in "The Torrents".
being director, Lexi Sekuless, who’s reserved the best role and the best
costumes for herself, and who gives a star performance as the mysterious J.G.Milford, who finally convinces the town of the wisdom of
young Ben’s breakthrough editorial, thereby earning the admiration of her
fellow employees, securing her job at the newspaper, and the heart of Ben’s
father, Rufus Torrent.