Bees, death, astrophysics, entymology, string theory, words, and most of all, relationships are all features of this engaging play, but you don’t have to know anything about any of them to be able to enjoy this final production for 2021 of the Adelaide Rep.
Written at the turn of this century, and set in the Cotswolds in 1997, this is its South Australian premiere, and a very worth-while addition to the repertoire. It suffers somewhat from lack of editorial red pen and scissors, as parts are too extended and become ragged and unnecessary. Not least of these is the ending, which the author, Charlotte Jones, seems to have been flailing around to find, until the play just stops.
But none of this is the fault of these actors, or Director Kerrin White. Celine O’leary shines as Flora, the angry, conflicted and sharp-tongued recently bereaved mother in a very nicely turned performance displaying a range of emotions with convincing reality. As her son, Felix Nick Endenburg has a challenging task to portray a scattered type of person, with his own hangups, aspirations and preoccupations, not to mention some of his unfolding history.
The female roles are considerably more convincingly written than the male roles. Rhonda Gill as Mercy Lott is near perfect in her stereotypical “nice” person – let’s-not-rock-the-boat church flower arranger. Her wonderful “grace” before the meal is a highlight, in which she lets her tightly constrained self fire all the pent up bullets she really wants to distribute. She does, however need to be more aware of audience laughter, so that precious lines are not lost. Phoebe Wilson as Rosie Pye, is also excellent: attractively commanding and straight down to Earth in the important role of the ex girlfriend of Felix, and daughter of George Pye, the ex-lover and now suitor of Flora, played rambunctiously by Christopher Leech.
The experienced Brian Knott rounds out the cast in a calm and nicely understated performance of Jim the gardener, who knows about quite a bit more than just gardening.
In amongst all the changing and inter-twining relationships and failed hopes, there are some delightful lines, making a most worth-while and enjoyable performance, on a very neat set by Kerrin White, suggesting a pleasant Cotswold garden, sensitively lit , as always, by Richard Parkhill. The whole is a very creditable production, which deserves a larger audience.