Art / Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters. National Museum of Australia, to February 25, 2018. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY
CANBERRA REP’s new production of Arthur Wing Pinero’s 1898 play, “Trelawny Of The Wells”, gives people the opportunity to see a classic play that is not often performed.
Set in England in the 1860s at the time when theatre presentation and acting styles were becoming more realistic, it’s basically a love story between a young actress and her upper class intended.
Tony Turner has skilfully directed a large cast of characters with great attention to detail in acting style and social manners. Jerry Hearn as the irascible Sir William Gower gives a very believable performance of a formidable traditional gentleman of the period. There is also strong and nicely fussy work from Alice Ferguson as Miss Trafalgar Gower. Rob de Fries as Tom Wrench gives a nice balance to a theatrical character who also wants to be a serious playwright. Alessa Kron was charming as Rose Trelawny but was hard to hear at times. There were some colourful performances from other cast members but not everyone was at ease with the style of playing required.
Ian Croker has designed an attractive, detailed period set with a good use of the revolving stage for the four set changes. Anna Senior’s period costumes are attractive and worn well by the cast. There was a good combination of light and sound for the storm sequence by Stephen Still, lighting, and Jon Pearson, sound.
Time hasn’t been kind to this old classic. There are long stretches of dialogue that don’t advance the play and the story of the young lovers isn’t very compelling. However, the play is interesting for its period and its theatrical characters and anyone with an interest in theatre and its history should see it.