Review by Alan Shepley
Last night the first night audience was witness to a fine production and an excellent ensemble performance. I commend director Geoff Brittain for his astute choice in casting and for the pitch perfect level of emotion his actors maintained throughout the performance. It was quite exceptional.
I grew up in the 1950’s hearing the name Helen Keller mentioned but not at all understanding the context nor its significance at that time. To a large degree disability was hidden away in well known institutions around Adelaide. So Helen’s story that had its genesis in the 19th century is truly remarkable. The play succeeded in highlighting just that.
Henny Walters as Helen and Jess Carroll as Annie Sullivan, her remarkable teacher guide, both produced flawless performances. The sheer physicality of their scenes together was exhaustingly brilliant. The well devised and well rehearsed choreography enhanced the bonds tying Helen to teacher and the Keller family.
Brian Knott as Keller family patriarch was instrumental in setting the tone throughout and delivered several well modulated edicts. He was ably supported by Jenny Allanas his wife and Ronan Banks as James his son. Their individual relationships with Helen and then with Annie were well drawn.
I thought that sound per se and the use of the work chants of the deep south provided an effective and haunting background. The set and its blending with the performance space was well designed, and the lighting plot was subtle and complementary throughout.
It was a most satisfying and moving night out at the theatre. The appreciative and respectful audience would have liked a second curtain call which says it all really.