Venue: Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 8pm Wed to Sat, 25th to 29th May, 1st to 4th June 2011
Duration: 2hrs 10min incl interval
Tickets: adult $23/conc $19/Fringe Benefits $16
Bookings: 8227 0505 or http://www.bakehousetheatre.com
In Alex Vickery-Howe’s intellectually and emotionally engaging new play, two students, David Moss and Elspeth Straun, arrive at their university science class and engage in conversation while waiting for their professor, Molly Taffy, to arrive. This eventually leads to David and Elspeth engaging in a relationship. He also finds reasons to question and challenge Molly, becoming a very frequent visitor to her office.
Then, that insidious attempt to convince people that creationism is scientific and should be taught as part of a science course, Intelligent Design, reared its ugly head, and both women held him at arms length. Science demands proof and the ability to duplicate that proof over and over again. Creationists demand faith, as there is no proof. Intelligent Design attempts to claim that the mere existence of everything and the complexity of its structures are proof of a Creator’s mind and hand at work, rather than what it really is, a belief that this could not have occurred without a Creator. Having alienated himself from the two women, he continues to push his views, eventually destroying his relationship with Elspeth and jeopardising his credibility with the professor.
We also see the three of them many years later. David and Elspeth have gone on with their separate lives, her working in a fertility clinic, and him married with three sons. Molly, however, now has Alzheimer’s Disease and David is caring for her as that once great mind deteriorates. He has been trying to contact Elspeth and she finally turns up at Molly’s home, but things do not go as any of them expected.
Joh Hartog has assembled an extremely strong cast for this production and helped to create a gripping piece of theatre. The younger trio of Elspeth, David and Molly are played, respectively, by Rachel Jones, Tim Smith and Katie O’Reilly, and older trio by Joanne Hartstone, John Maurice and the inimitable Bridget Walters.
Jones and Smith are totally convincing as the two young lovers, bickering, arguing, disagreeing, and regularly making up, drawing closer each time, until he goes too far with opening up about his beliefs. They bounce off one another in a tightly linked pair of characterisations. O’Reilly is marvellously commanding as Molly, giving us a woman with a mind like a rapier and supremely confident. The relationships, the balance between the three, is remarkably well tuned.
As the older David, Maurice shows us a man who has lost his faith. We see the David we met before, but we can see that he has changed with time. Hartstone’s Eslpeth, too, is recognisable as her younger counterpart, again, with the effects of time modifying her attitudes and behaviour. The two create a good feeling of two people who were exceptionally close, showing a desire to pick up where they left off, but an awkwardness keeping them from committing, the revelation of further details once again driving a wedge between them.
And then there is Bridget Walters. Even if everything else had been a disaster, instead of the huge success that it actually is, it would still have been worth the price of a ticket to see her performance as the older Molly. As Walters slips from the completely lucid woman, as sharp as ever Molly was, into the vague and forgetful Molly whose brain is atrophying, it is reflected in every fibre of her. Her demeanour changes dramatically and we can literally see the light go out in her eyes. Her great talent and wealth of experience is indisputable in this performance, as it has been in so many others before.
Tammy Boden’s stunning set design is dominated by an enormous fractal pattern on the floor, highly relevant, since fractals form the major part of David’s arguments for the existence of a Creator. Stephen Dean’s lighting design neatly prevents the characters from the two eras colliding and spoiling the effect.
Book your tickets, pop along to the cosy foyer of the Bakehouse for a glass of something before the show, and treat yourself to a great night out. This production has everything going for it, make sure that you go for it, too.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.