All My Love- first

The intimate Lennox Theatre at the Riverside  came richly to life with this gem of a historical play written by Australian writer, Anne Broadsbank.

ALL MY LOVE charts the story of the relationship between two major Australian literary figures, starting with how at the end of the 19th century, Mary Gilmore a literary icon and radical socialist was introduced to a young Henry Lawson. The playwright used as her source, the poems and letters that they wrote to each other over time.

As their friendship developed, Mary found herself caught in the midst of an intense relationship between Henry and his formidable Suffragette mother,  Louisa.  (Louisa is an invisible, dominating presence through the play). What ensues is the start of a love affair including a secret engagement which is  then thwarted by a devastating deception.

Brooksbank’s play depicts their mutual love for their country as well as their belief in women’s rights  and social equality

There is a simple, flexible set that allows for fluid scene changes which includes a raised platform that also acts as a projection screen, and at either side of the stage, there are chairs and tables that can represent a flat in London, a Sydney park, an ocean liner and more.

Denny Lawrence directs with a gentle, sure touch and allows the two performers to shine. There is very effective atmospheric lighting and Chris Hubbard’s soundscape, incorporating the work of composer Jack Ellis with some delicate piano, and some great sound effects.

Kim Denman gives an exciting portrayal  of Mary Gilmore who Broodbank also assigns the role of narrator. She captures this strong willed, intense, talented woman- poet, activist, lover.

We see Gilmore develop from a young, inspired teacher to a  fervent socialist, a concerned friend to a passionate  lover. We also follow her in her travels from Sydney to Paraguay to the freezing United Kingdom and then back home again

Dion Mills, who has a good resemblance to Lawson, gives a vibrant, charming performance and depicts his characters’ intense and tormented nature.

We see the struggling poet that Lawson always felt himself to be, and the lack of self-esteem which plagued him for most of his life.

He is shown as extremely patriotic, concerned with social justice and equality, as was Gilmore, and having to contend with a fiercely protective, loving father.

Much of the vulnerable, turbulent depths of Lawson’s character is revealed and we see him torn between his commitment to his forceful mother and his love for Gilmore.

This was a compelling play featuring fine performances as well as providing a fascinating and rich insight into the political and social history of the time.

A Christine Harris and Hit Productions production , Anne Broadsbank’s ALL MY LOVE played only a brief season at the Lennox theatre, Riverside theatres between the 17th and 20th February.

All My Love- second