Presented by University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
Reviewed 9th August 2017
Three Tall Women by American playwright Edward Albee has been taken on by the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild under the direction of Geoff Brittain. The play examines human processing of life, getting older and death by using age in the three nameless characters to highlight diverse views, experiences and understandings of the world around them.
The first act centres on an ageing, perceivably wealthy woman (played by Jean Walker) as she goes through her day while coping with memory loss and a frail body. She reminisces and shares stories from her life to her middle-aged carer (Rachel Burfield) and a young lawyer (Jessica Carroll). The memories are disjointed and prompted together by the regularly cackling and resigned realism of the carer while providing an eye opening experience for the lawyer sent to chase up signatures.
Illness takes the play into the second act with each of the actors taking roles within the older woman’s mind to represent the different ages from twenties, fifties, to nineties. Each woman appears disconnected from the other; the younger in disbelief that she will live through the stories she is hearing and up to the eldest who has experienced enough pain to no longer hold on to the emotional suffering and crushing betrayal the middle-age character continues to hold on to. Her son (Amin Zargarian) arrives to fulfil the silent role and provoke an array of reactions from the main characters.
Walker and Burfield are superb in their roles, bouncing off each other in strong comical timing, particularly in the carer and frail woman roles. Burfield’s emotional switch to a betrayed mother in the second act delivers further depth in her overall performerance. Carroll seemed to have the biggest alteration between her first and second characters. The interchanging of rigidity and curiosity in the first character could have transitioned a little more smoothly. However, she presented a much stronger character in the second act with good delivery of the character’s innocence, search to understand her future happiness, and deliberate refusal to accept her fate.
The Little Theatre and the University of Adelaide provides a rounded and intimate setting for such a play. The small space was utilised incredibly well to draw us further into the production. The few items of furniture were beautifully designed with soft colours to avoid distraction of the deliberately bright and excessive make up and costumes, especially on the frail woman in the first act.
Three Tall Women is an engaging play with some impressive moments delivered by the lead actors.
Reviewed by Alex Dunkin
Venue: Little Theatre, University of Adelaide
Season: 9th-19th August 2017
Duration: two hours plus 20 min interval
Tickets: $23 – $28
Group bookings 10+ at concession rate
School group discounts from 8313 5999 only
Tickets on the door, cash only and subject to availability