Thursday, 28 November 2002

The Grand Feeling, Nov 28, 2002

What: The Grand Feeling by Paradigm Productions
Where:  45 Downstairs 45 Flinders Lane
When: November 27 & 29, December 5 & 7, 2002
Time:  7.30pm
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The Grand Feeling is a production with oodles of charm. Directors, Nadja Kostich and Jeremy Angerson, bring to the stage the stories of three very different older members of our community.

The three featured players are Frances Barton, Lesley Coles and Djo Soemardjo.

 The charm derives from the absolutely untheatrical manner of the three elders as they unaffectedly tell parts of their story to us live or on film.

On stage with them are three other performers, singer-violinist, Ria Soemardjo, writer-film maker Michael Carmody and dancer-choreographer, Tony Yap.

The very simple and moving stories were discovered in a workshop called All My Love during 2001.

A completely white set (Nina Sanadze) incorporates  shadow screens, white chairs and an exceptionally beautiful hanging of enlarged snowflake designs.

The elders move easily in the space and are invited or assisted onto the stage by the actors. There is no pressure on them to perform.

They look to the actors for prompts when they lose the thread of their story, They pause, change tack or alter the answers to the prompts as they feel inclined.

" I'll do it my way," Lesley challenges Carmody as she steps towards the audience. They want me to say this but I don't want to," she says about telling us she might find love at her age.

They talk about their families, meeting their spouses, courting, falling in love and challenges of age and the failing body and mind.

The audience gasps as Frances tells us she is one of eighteen children of an aboriginal mother and a White American father. They lived in three rooms and mum burned the fence for heating in winter.

Lesley, from Yarram in Gippsland, plays waltzes for us and tells of marrying her husband after only six meetings over three years.

Djo is a fine, still presence on stage. Parkinson's disease, he says, makes his body and hands shake. His romance with an Australian woman brought him to Melbourne to escape the difficulties in his native Java.

Ria Soemardjo is a sublime element in this show. Her violin playing and unusual vocal quality is transporting. All I can say is see this. It is delightful.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment