If you only see one State Theatre Company production – or indeed only one professional stage show – this year, make it Neighbourhood Watch.
Australian playwright Lally Katz’s well-written script examines love, friendship, trust, letting go of the past and how well we really know ourselves and others. It’s told through the eyes of the inhabitants of Mary Street; in particular those of Ana (Miriam Margolyes), an 80 year old Hungarian/Australian widow, and her neighbour Catherine (Eleanor Stankiewicz), a young hopeful wannabe actress. The play is wonderfully humorous and beautifully poignant.
As the octogenarian neighbour from Hell, Margolyes is magnificent, commanding the stage and giving a master class performance in defining and maintaining character – accent, stance, posture and mannerisms are all perfected, even when transforming into a younger version of herself. She more than proves why she is an international star of stage and screen. Margolyes’ level of excellence is of the standard that, in the not so distant past, one would have flown to London to experience, but we have it right here in our own backyard!
Recent NIDA graduate Stankiewicz more than holds her own as Catherine, particularly at the start of Act Two where she portrays a young Ana. There is never an overdone gesture or feeling from this promising young actor.
Great character work is supplied by the always excellent Carmel Johnson (Christina) and Eugenia Fragos as the very exhausted Serbian immigrant, Milova. Special mention should be made of Ben Roberts who handles a particularly hard Act Two role extremely well; and ‘newbie’ professional actor James Smith as diabetic would-be screenwriter Ken. Smith is relaxed, charming and natural in the role and he bears looking out for in future productions.
Straightforward, no-nonsense direction by Julian Meyrick along with excellent input from designer Louise McCarthy, lighting designer Geoff Cobham and composer/sound designer Quentin Grant, coupled with an exemplary cast and Margolyes’ bravura performance make this a production one could easily see again, with images and ideas that are certain to linger for awhile in one’s memories.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide
Season: 6 – 24 May 2014
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins (including interval)
Tickets: $30.00 – $56.00
Bookings: Book through BASS online or phone 131 246