Theatre Review: 1918: The Untold Story

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Presented by Hills Youth Theatre
Reviewed 10 August 2018

With the upcoming anniversary of World War One this is a timely production and covering an oft-forgot section of the people who suffered through those dark days. Based firmly in the Adelaide Hills it reminds us of the difficulties faced not only by the men who marched away but also those who were left behind.

For a show with no interval two hours and fifteen minutes is too long, especially when the audience were advised it would run a little over an hour. Parts of this original script, by the director Karen Sierp, are good, but there needs to be some judicious editing. The biggest fault is the time-consuming scene changes and the over loud music which impinges on the dialogue. There were many problems with the sound; some of the actors were unable to project (or lacked clarity) so important dialogue was lost. The lighting in many of the scenes in front of the scrim did not help this problem as it is hard to focus on what is being said when the person is inaudible and speaking in the dark.

Despite this the fine performances of the cast got the message through. As Roy Green, Rory Miller-Frost showed fine development and emotion and was paired well with Matilda Butler as Daisy. There was a very strong performance by Jean Collins as Margaret Green, the matriarch of the family; she took the audience with her on her roller coaster of emotions. As the younger brother Charlie Green, James Grosser was the epitome of the younger brother trying to keep up, impulsive and headstrong. Danny Smith and Sebastian Rogers were well cast as Jack and Eddie, two youngsters eager to see the world and looking for adventure.

The standout was undoubtedly Michelle Stewart as Mrs Schultz, a German settler whose family is ostracised and eventually deported despite being Australian citizens. Her accent was constant and always understandable and her portrayal of a strong mother and wife who refuses to have her spirit broken was tremendous. Ben Proeve did a fine job as Roy’s friend Marty who suspects what he is getting into by going to war, but goes with Roy as he sees no alternative. There were many other good performances and sadly limited space to list them: these youngsters understood the story and delivered it well.

Finally, I firmly believe it is a mistake in most cases for a writer to direct their own play; they are too close to see the faults and this play deserves a better ending, which could be achieved with better lighting effects – the audience were left wondering if it was finished or just another scene change.

Although this review seems very critical, this reviewer thinks it is worthy of further work and is certainly worth seeing for the performances of the cast.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: Stirling Community Theatre
Season: 10-19 August 2018
Duration: 2 hr 15mins
Tickets: adults $18 child/concession $15 family $60
Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com

 

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