Hotel Sorrento by Hannie Rayson. Directed by Bruce Myles for
HIT Productions at Tuggeranong Community Arts Centre,
An excellent play deserves excellent directing of excellent actors, and just desserts were what we received on Monday night at TCA.
Hotel Sorrento, Rayson's first major success in 1990, has justifiably become a key modern Australian play. In short movie-like scenes, 8 characters' intertwined relationships reveal the personal and the global complexities of their lives. Everyone in the audience found themselves recognising their own experiences and responding with emotions from joy to sadness, as the central three sisters deal with the past and the present. If you've missed this production, see the DVD of the 1995 film.
Though I liked the film, I loved this production of the play. On the small TCA stage so close to the audience, every detail of the actors' expressions and body language directly communicated their feelings and thoughts to us. Myles' directing and the set and lighting design took our attention from character to character, from within the house and garden to the jetty and across the world to London, all linked with clear-noted guitar music (by Andrew Pendlebury), so smoothly that we were transported into the world on stage as if it were the most natural place to be. Figures moved in and out of light and shadow, scene changes becoming a choreographed dance of movement and stillness - the perfect model from which to learn the art of changing scenes.
All the actors - the sisters Celia de Burgh (Hilary), Marcella Russo (Pippa), Jane Nolan (Meg, whose novel Melancholy is short-listed for the Booker Prize), John Flaus (the sisters' father), Jared Daperis (Hilary's son Troy), Roger Oakley (Meg's English husband Edwin), Beverley Dunn (Marge, a new neighbour who recognises Sorrento in Meg's novel), and Kevin Harrington (who publishes socio-political essays about Australian culture) - formed a team of great strength, lifting the play off the stage and into our heads and hearts.
Sorrento is a great success for producer Christine Harris and HIT Productions,
and proves the special value of the role of Tuggeranong Community Arts in the
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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