Review / ‘Magic’ draws a standing ovation

theatre “The Magic Hour” By Vanessa Bates, directed by Chris Bendall and performed by Ursula Yovich At The Street Theatre, until July 6. Reviewed by Joe Woodward

What kind of performance can evoke a standing ovation from a normally staid Canberra audience at The Street Theatre? The question was answered by Ursula Yovich in “The Magic Hour.”

Ursula Yovich.

Ursula Yovich.

Yovich is clearly in love with the characters and stories she enacts; in love with the theatre and with her audience. It is love that imbues her characters with a deep humanity born of their desperation, longing and struggle to live. It is a love that offers the highest respect for her craft, the traditions of story-telling and the power to affect through a live communion between actor and audience. Rarely has this been seen or evident so effectively at The Street Theatre or anywhere else in Canberra.

Bates’ script echoes elements of Clarissa Estes’ “Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul” and “Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype”.

However, it differs considerably by focusing not so much on the archetypical woman, but on the real person that is left behind to remain anonymous and unheroic. The six stories are sequenced to draw the audience into a form that is compelling and enriching. “Hannah’s story”, derived from “Rapunzel” provides for a particularly engaging characterisation that is a pure gem of theatre; empathetic and repelling at the same time.

It is difficult to imagine anyone other than Yovich presenting these stories; such is the power of her performance. A power acknowledged by the audience with a standing ovation!




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