Anna Crawford’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s laconic comedy ‘My Wonderful Day’ is a well crafted and performed night at the theatre,
‘My Wonderful Day’ features two black actors in leading roles. The scenario sees a nine year old black girl Winnie Barnstairs (Belinda Jombwe) take a day off school and accompany her heavily pregnant mum Laverne (Shareena Clanton) to work. Laverne is cleaning the house of a cantankerous television personality, Kevin Tate (Mark Owen-Taylor), Laverrne tells Winnie that she must be quiet and do her homework, which is to write her essay/journal that she entitles ‘My Wonderful Day’.
Life in the Tate household is far from serene! Tate is a difficult man whose life is made more difficult by his BAFTA award winning wife Paula (Danielle Carter) having left him. His ditzy secretary Tiffany comes to his aid and things are more than a little chaotic.
A sweet natured young girl, Winnie is also bright and astute, and as the day unfolds, with director Anna Crawford, (an Ensemble theatre director’s fellow), flashing the changing times on the back wall, Winnie witnesses the adults’ comical, and at times, irrational behaviour first hand. Winnie will never look at adults in quite the same way!
‘My Wonderful Day’ runs straight through for ninety minutes without interval. Typical of Ayckbourn’s plays, as ‘dramatic’ as the action is, the playwright’s trademark one liners are interspersed through the play with lines such as ‘I married an angel/ I divorced a monster’, and the young Winnie with her ever present pen and exercise book is jokingly portrayed as a young Emily Bronte.
The roles are neatly played. Mark Owen-Taylor is well cast as the highly strung, comical Kevin Tate. As Paula, Danielle Carter makes a major impression in a scene where she discovers infidelity. Shareena Clanton gives a warm performance as the good natured, hard working Laverne and has a funny, chaotic scene where her waters break in the living room. Young actress Belinda Jombwe plays something of a leading role as Winnie who is trying to discreetly fathom what’s happening. Belinda’s timing is first class. Matilda Ridgeway gives a typically assured performance as the ‘accomodating’ secretary. Brian Meegan plays Kevin’s gregarious mate who tries everything to protect him.
‘My Wonderful Day’ features good production values. Anna Crawford’s direction is clear and relaxed. Rita Carmody’s set design is sparse but suffices. featuring a few chairs, a long bed sofa, and top left is the main bedroom. There are some lovely lighting moments by lighting designer Gavan Swift. Claire Maloney’s character revealing costumes work well, and dialect coach Jennifer White gets the cast working with funtional British accents.
An Australian premiere, and master British playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s 73rd play, ‘My Wonderful Day’ opened at the Ensemble theatre, 98 MacDougall Street, Kirribilli on Friday 20th May and runs until Sunday 26th June, 2011.