The inner city Genesian Theatre Company is currently playing a very fin e revival of one of David Williamson’s best plays, TRAVELLING NORTH.
Set in the late 1960s, the play sees Frank and Frances decide to desert their former lives and responsibilities in Melbourne for the tropics of Queensland.
Sahn Millington’s production is a very heartfelt and sympathetic one. I greatly enjoyed the performances in this show…as Williamson’s finely detailed characters came across.
What a good performance Dave Kirkham gave in the lead. This was one performance he should be very proud of. It was a largely sympathetic performance of a pleasant but doddery and neurotic Frank Brown who is in his mid seventies and is diagnosed with an incurable heart condition.Kirkham gave a very fine performance, hitting all the right notes. The picture of a frail old man, who was definitely worth opening a Magnum of Champagne for when he died, was well etched.
Jane Thorpe was the twenty years younger Frances, the woman who falls for him and moves up north with him. It was quite a large role and she did well with it, growing in confidence as the show went on. Her character came across as a hard working woman who raised two daughters despite a divorce- a genuine woman who becomes her new partner’s carer.
Megan Shooter plays Sophie who was a bit deserted by her mum growing up and her mum feels forever guilty about it.
Lauren Birdsall has a strong stage presence as Frances’ daughter, Helen, the more outspoken of the two sisters, who has a scene where she has it out with Frank about how he is treating her.
There is a clever line in the play where the two sisters are called Goneril and Regan- always wanting her to come down to Melbourne, and pull her away from Frank’s clutches.
Peter Irwin Smith gives a nice comic performance as Freddy Wicks,. Frank’s rather garrulous neighbour who is always popping in on the couple, sometimes unwanted.
Sandra Bass performance as Frank’s Doctor Sarah Morganstein was a confident performance, convincingly playing a rather harassed Doctor who tolerates Frank’s neediness.
Courtney Fleming does well playing Frank’s daughter Joan, as well as two other roles, those of the Celebrant and a Gallery Assistant.
The play changed locations on numerous occasions so there were frequent changing of props by cast members and techies. The back wall of the stage was used for some screen projections of various locations. The main stage area was Frank and Frances’ new digs up north (Tweed Heads). The furniture and costumes were suitable for the period – with the time period being the late nineteen sixties.
My best description of TRAVELLING NORTH?! A very grounded, resonant play, one which we can all relate to. The themes of constant change in life and the inevitability of growing old and the troubles around this came to the fore.
Wistful and poignant, David Williamson’s TRAVELLING NORTH is playing the Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street, city until Saturday 24th March. Performance times are Friday and Saturday nights at 7.30pm and Sunday afternoons at 4.30pm.