Friday, 17 June 2011

The Sum Of Us, by David Stevens, by Hit Productions

The Sum Of Us
Clocktower, Moonee Ponds, touring Victoria until July 8, 2011
Stars:  ***

David Stevens’ play, The Sum of Us, deals with issues that will be familiar and identifiable to most audiences: parent/child relationships, the challenge of forming new relationships, the pain of losing loved-ones, thwarted opportunities, fear, illness, and the dangers of living life while looking through a rear-view mirror.

Widower, Harry Mitchell (John Jarratt) and his gay son, Jeff (Patrick Harvey), share a home. Harry has long accepted his son’s sexual preference, which, while commendable, is not without its own problems, especially when it comes to Jeff inviting would-be lover, Greg (Glenn van Oosterom), into their home for a romantic encounter.

Harry’s chummy eagerness to make Jeff and Greg feel comfortable becomes a downright inconvenience and a huge turn-off for Jeff. Meanwhile, Harry’s love life with new flame, Joyce (Nell Feeney), comes to a crashing halt when she unveils herself as a homophobe.

The naturalistic style of this play is discarded when both Harry and Jeff speak directly to the audience, putting us in the role of mother confessor or a silent fifth actor. Their poignant monologues are the high-points of Stevens’ often-repetitive script which would benefit from some editing.

Jarratt is relaxed and entertaining as big-hearted, lonely Harry and Harvey is warm and engaging as his son. Denis Moore’s direction is even-handed and competent but could potentially increase the impact of the play’s most significant comical or dramatic moments.

If you leave this play with only one message, it is that life is short, unpredictable so seize every opportunity for love and happiness.

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