Georgia by Jill Shearer. Directed by Carol Woodrow at The Street Theatre, March 10-19, 2005, 8pm.
This play is about an intense, original artist, the American Georgia O'Keeffe. Her minder in her old age, Juan Hamilton, puts her in a ground floor room while his family lives upstairs. "Why can't I be upstairs?" Georgia demands. "Because you might fall," he replies. "Yes," she retorts, "but I might fly."
Unfortunately, this production fails to get off the ground. Definitely pedestrian. No winging our imaginations to the heights of O'Keeffe's paintings, some of which are displayed in the foyer. And so disappointing when the actors, particularly Jennifer Hagan as Georgia and Ken Spiteri as Juan, are so good.
The fault lies, I think, partly in a script which uses repetitive flashbacks which tell us a little more information each time but do not reveal dramatic new perspectives on Georgia's part about her personal progress as an artist.
Woodrow describes the play as "merging constantly from 'the real' to memory, dream, myth or fantasy, and back to 'the real', but I found the many short scenes broken by blackouts in the first act did not create a sense of merging. In the second act, centred around a bed in an unadorned space, characters from the present and past could come and go, more successfully creating an uninterrupted flow in and out of reality for part of the time, but still with sudden stops and starts, including a final stop which left me wondering if this was the end (which it was).
A major failing, I felt, was an unimaginative use of the projected images. We did not see the "color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for" that O'Keeffe wrote about. The Art Gallery posters in the foyer and the 1921 photos of her by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and reproduced in the program, could have been projected to pinpoint her feelings at significant points in her life. The recorded sound track also needed adjusting to support the action rather than interrupt or dominate the speakers.
Finally, this production does not set us up emotionally to hope that Georgia can die satisfied with her life, and to discover if she does. It's quite interesting to know her story but, as I overheard someone say, "I don't really care."
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
Return to Frank McKone'sHome Page