For their first play of the year the company has selected this multi-award winning play, by American playwright, Jeff Baron.
A young American Express executive, Ross Gardiner, almost ran down an old man, and was convicted of reckless driving. Thanks to a court order, he is required to perform community service by visiting 86 year old Mr. Green, the man he almost ran down, once a week for six months. Mr. Green, however, is as unhappy with the arrangement as Ross.
The witty script is extremely well written, with not a wasted word and, from a disarmingly light beginning, it grows in power and emotional intensity as the two begin to trust one another and reveal more about themselves, ending as good friends, supporting each other, and helping one another to face their pasts, their prejudices, and their demons.
Director, Brian Knott, has cast and directed the show well, with Martin Wright, as Mr. Green, and Alex King, as Ross Gardiner, making an excellent pairing. Wright captures the loneliness, and the effects of the self-imposed isolation of Mr. Green beautifully. Wright’s masterful performance makes it clear that Mr. Green does not have a great deal of social interaction with others, and is merely spending his days killing time, idly waiting for death.
King’s equally marvellous interpretation of Ross presents us with a busy young man whose career absorbs him, making him as lonely as Mr. Green. His initial disinterest in Mr. Green, and his sadly bare life, is Ross’s defence mechanism, a way to avoid involvement with others beyond a superficial level. King handles the changes in Ross and his attitudes with a gentle touch, showing sympathy for his flawed character, and gradually letting us see more deeply into Ross.
Together, they present a superb two hander, where Wright and King seem to be of one mind on all aspects of the play, inspiring and encouraging each other to an enviable level of credulity, and engaging the audience completely. Towards the latter part of the piece a few sniffles, and a rustle or two of tissues, attested to how strongly they created their characters, and how completely the audience had come to believe in them. They generated a sincere response to the script, often filled with sadness, but also with hope, and they never for a moment allowed it to become maudlin.
St. Jude’s Players have every right to be proud of what is being presented, and they deserve full houses every night. Make sure you get a ticket if you want to see some first class theatre.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide
Venue: St. Jude’s Hall, 444 Brighton Road, Brighton
Season: 8pm, to Saturday 20th April 2013
Duration: 2hrs 10min incl. intvl.
Tickets: $7 to $19