From the very beginning of this production the audience knew it was in the presence of theatre greats. Apart from the years of experience in stage, TV and films, if I started listing the awards these three have won there would be no room for a review. To say that expectations were high is somewhat of an understatement.
Angela Lansbury must have one of the most recognisable faces. Seven decades of film and TV have taken her image around the world. She is in her eighties and could act every other actress I have seen (and I have seen a few) off the stage. Much the same can be said for James Earl Jones. Although less TV exposure may make his face a little less recognisable, everyone knows the voice of Darth Vader. The third member of this ensemble, Boyd Gaines, is not such a veteran and has less films to his name, so his face is not instantly known. Compared to his illustrious companions he is a relative newcomer but with excellent credentials!
The play, by Alfred Uhry, a Pulitzer winning classic, was the basis for the Oscar winning movie and has been performed many times, by many casts, all over the world. I cannot believe, however, that anyone has produced a better version than Director David Esbjornson has with this incarnation. These actors are the masters of subtlety. An expression, a pause, conveys so much and Esbjornson’s deft touch shows them at their best. The story of an elderly southern woman, no longer able to drive, and the elderly ‘coloured’ chauffeur employed by her son to drive her, with its setting in the troubled times of the American South, captures much humanity and comedy.
The set, carefully designed by John Lee Beatty, moved and changed around the actors but never lost the flow of the play for the audience. It was coupled with the exquisite lighting plot of Peter Kaczorowski, reflecting not just the season but the mood of the piece. The whole production was flawless.
The opening night standing ovation seemed to confirm that the audience felt privileged to have witnessed a beautiful piece of theatre, presented by three masters of the craft.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards, Performing Arts Critic, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Season: 17 May – 2 June 2013
Duration: 1hr 30 mins
Tickets: $89.90 – $199.90
Bookings: Book at BASS