Echoes Theatrecraft Review

Echoes

By Alistair Faulkner
Beaumaris Theatre
Directed by Barbara Crawford
Reviewed by Roderick Chappel - August 25, 2018

One of the benefits of reviewing plays for Theatrecraft is that I often visit theatres for the first time or see plays that would not otherwise have seen. Theatre, play and playwright were all new to me when I saw Echoes by English actor and playwright Alistair Faulkner: an excellent production of a wonderful play.

Echoes is set in the 1990s, with flashbacks to the early Twentieth Century. Rose, a wheelchair-bound old lady in a nursing home, re-lives in imagination her childhood an youth, her love affair and the deaths of both her brother and her lover in World War I. Rose’s declining health, linked symbolically with the year’s decline from summer to winter, ends with her death. This brief description may suggest a story that is either sentimental or morbid, but it was neither. The play was just the right length and held me throughout, and the climax moved me to tears.

The striking and attractive set allowed creative and effective blocking; it was designed, as was the lighting, by Fred Pezzimenti. Rose’s room, stage right, opened onto a green garden with one magnificent beech tree. Far left was a path under a white, vine-clad, decorative canopy, emerging from an arched entry up left. The stage extended forward from this path, creating a place where characters often spoke under a spotlight. Entrances and exits were from the path, or from the door up right in Rose’s room. That room was charmingly decorated but uncluttered, with a divan bed, upholstered in red velvet, as the only furniture. Between the room and the garden were angled French windows upstage, and a gap downstage.

Never having, as far as I can remember, been to Beaumaris before - Melbourne is a very spread-out city - I arrived just as the audience was being called in. I therefore did not know, until well into the play, that three of the actors each played two roles; my failure to spot this immediately was a tribute both to the costumes and to the acting. I took it, from the play’s denouement, that these doublings-up are specified by the author.

Judy Corderoy played Rose with feeling and style, and Emily Holding played Rose as a young woman with charm, vivacity and great sensitivity. Kim Anderson gave a strong performance as the rather fierce Matron of the nursing home, and also played Rose’s mother. The initially unsympathetic and defensive character of the Matron is eventually transformed through her relationship with Rose. Rose’s endearing Irish nurse, Bridget (Julia Day), is being courted by the outgoing and playful nurse, Peter, played by Alex Ashcroft, who was also Rose’s daredevil brother James. Stephen White played both Rose’s daredevil brother James. Stephen White played both Rose’s troubled father and her sympathetic doctor. Stuart Anderson was excellent as Edward, who was James’ friend and Rose’s fiancé.

Lighting was used effectively through many scene changes; spotlights on speeches were sometimes accompanied by secondary spotlighting of secondary actors. Costumes (Samantha Davies) were magnificent, especially those for the young Rose. I found Kim Anderson’s accent as the Matron a little unconvincing, but the other British accents were strong. Sensitive direction by Barbara Crawford led to excellent timing, extending through to the curtain call.

The use of the old and the young Rose in combination was powerful, and the portrayal of Rose’s death was deeply moving. Old age is a central theme of this play. Rose spoke of herself as a nineteen-year-old girl in a ninety-year-old body; my mother, when in her eighties, once said something quiet similar. This successful production of a lovely play offers us a deeper understanding of ageing and of the aged.

Introducing the Snoopy - The Musical cast!

Beaumaris Theatre Inc is thrilled to announce the cast of Snoopy - The Musical! 

Director Danny Forward | Musical Director Tim Verdon | Choreographer Kristy Griffin

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Snoopy Tony Burge

Charlie Brown Rourke Puksand

Lucy Candice Sweetman

Peppermint Patty Allie Sutherland

Linus Nic Russ

Sally Brown Ashleigh Psaila

Woodstock Daniel Baker

Snoopy - The Musical will run from 9 - 23 November, 2018

The Actor’s Experience with Judy Corderoy

Rose is a spirited, wise old woman (much older than me I’m delighted to say!). Nearing the end of her life, she is content to live her last months in the company of her memories of the most significant period of her life - World War I. She is a woman of courage and conviction but vulnerability and doubt are there beneath the surface of her brave words. In this she is like most of us in the face of death and the unknown. It’s only the young who think they will never die.

Back in the Day - How It All Started

Have you ever wondered how the Talbot Tattler or Talbot Awards received their name?

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Bill and Angela Martin moved from England to Beaumaris with their young family in the 1950s when it was a very new suburb and one favoured by artistes. The Martin's made their new home at grandiose Talbot House, 28 Cromer Road Beaumaris. Bill and Angela were thespians and Angela missed her performing so her husband Bill built her a theatrette in the attic of their home in 1953. It housed about twenty audience members and had a small stage and dressing room. Angela and her friends performed English comedies for their friends and the proceeds went to charity.  The ladies would wear fur coats and jewels and the gentlemen would wear dinner suits and there would be a lavish supper to follow the performance.

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The events were extremely popular and demand for tickets far exceeded the space available so the Martins along with other members of the Beaumaris  Players worked very hard to have the theatre space we now know in Wells Road purpose built to cater for larger audiences. For 60 years now an illustrious troupe of thespians from all walks of life and various backgrounds have been treading the prestigious boards laid by Bill and Angela way back when…

Director's Notes with Barbara Crawford

A production is a collaboration between playwright, director, actors and crew, each supporting the hard work being contributed by the rest of the team. The director is rather like an orchestra conductor keeping everyone in tune. My approach to directing is strongly influenced by my background as an actor, which means I have my own ideas about how the play should look but welcome the input from the performer.  A good performance is only given when the actor is comfortable with the interpretation of the role and is invested in it.

I am drawn to plays that have a little bit of magic about them. In Echoes we see the memories of an old lady being brought to life and can share her happy and sad times. So much more powerful than just reading the words, we see the emotion and tumult that the people who lived through the First World War were subjected to.

I love to use music and lighting to create illusions and atmosphere. In the previous play I directed I made use of audio visual effects and wove them into the action on stage, which was another kind of magic.

The secret to directing a great production is casting well, and I am delighted to say that for Echoes I have cast extremely well! This talented group will ensure that you enjoy a wonderful evening of theatre, and it might even bring a tear to your eye!

Echoes is playing at Beaumaris Theatre from 17 August - 1 September 2018.