Review: The Magnificent Ambersons

Ambersons posterPresented by Independent Theatre Company
Reviewed Friday 19th April 2013

The 1918 Pulitzer prize winning novel about a small Indianapolis town’s richest and most powerful family at the beginning of the last century has now been adapted for the stage by Rob Croser.

The Magnificent Ambersons was originally written by Booth Tarkington and the play is currently running at the Odeon Theatre until April 27th.

Major Amberson is the matriarch of the family, the founder of their fortune, and the man who had built the mansion that they live in. His grandson, George Amberson Minafer, known as Georgie, is spoiled by his mother, Isabel, and treats those he thinks are beneath him badly. He also teases his Aunt Fanny, making her miserable, and controls his mother after his father, dies, keeping her away from her first love, Eugene Morgan. Even though this also prevents him from seeing Morgan’s daughter, Lucy, whom he loves.

Everything changes gradually with time, and the town grows into an industrial city, swallowing up the old town, whilst the fortunes of the Ambersons go downhill. The fortunes of Eugene Morgan, however, constantly increase.

William Cox makes a marvellous Georgie, giving his character all of the arrogance and assumed superiority demanded by the role. Thanks to Cox’s performance the self-centred Georgie is, as the saying goes, somebody that only a mother could love. Shona Benson creates that very mother for us, in an equally strong performance that makes her doting believable.

Allen Munn couldn’t be better as the Major, the role seems to fit him like a glove. David Roach turns in yet another of his consistently fine performances, as Uncle George Amberson. Bronwyn Ruciak is astounding as Fanny Minafer, negotiating all of the complexities of the character, from self-delusional to psychotic, in a brilliant performance.

Domenic Panuccio, as Eugene Morgan, evokes the sympathy of the audience as he presents a man whose life was ruined by one night of overindulgence in alcohol and who has done all that he can to redeem himself, only to be thwarted by Georgie. His is an emotionally rich performance.

Alicia Zorkovic’s Lucy is a delight. She displays a coquettish playfulness, hiding her feelings for Georgie beneath that surface, knowing that he will only make her miserable. At the same time, displaying a strength as she supports her father through his sadness. Zorkovic’s is another notable performance.

Tom Carney and Tracey Walker complete the cast, each skilfully playing five diverse roles. All of the cast, except for Georgie, act as a Greek chorus, narrating sections to illuminate the story.

Rush for tickets, as this is sure to draw huge crowds.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide

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Venue: Odeon Theatre, Cnr. Queen Street and The Parade, Norwood
Season: 8pm, to Saturday 27th April 2013
Duration: 3hrs incl. intvl.
Tickets: $18 to $35
Bookings: here

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