25th January 2018
Assembly Roxy Edinburgh
Type of Production
Author: Dorothy Johnstone
It was a real pleasure to be invited to the opening night of the debut production by this new company and what a wonderful production it was. I must confess to never having heard of the play ‘Elephants’ so had little idea of what to expect other than it was a black comedy about a family reunion at Christmas when some dark secrets are revealed.This excellent, gripping play full of contrasting emotions was indeed wonderfully directed and perfectly cast.
An impressive split set depicted a living room lavishly decorated for Christmas, a dining area with a view into the kitchen and a garden shed filled to the brim with tools and ‘stuff ‘ and was well used and lit.
Sally, a middle class housewife, has pulled out all the stops to try to make this a special Christmas for her family and close friends in memory of her dear son who was killed a year before. While Sally is apparently full of the joys of Christmas, her alcohol dependent husband Richard is not so keen and has little time for the friends Valerie and Dick. Sally and Richard’s daughter Daisy who has mental health issues eventually turns up and is non too pleased to see her deceased brother’s ex.girlfriend the fashionable, Lizzy has been invited.
There is unease in the group right from the start but as the play builds so does the tension between the characters.Things are not as they appear to be.The scene at the dining table where secrets and feelings are revealed was particularly well played and poignant. Daisy, displaying her almost manic behaviour ,was brilliantly played by the young and very talented Rebekah Lansley who forces Lizzy (Mia Oudeh) to tell the truth about Christophers death. The later scene with these two players after Daisy has seen her brothers ghost was a real tour de force by both girls.Lengthy dialogue was delivered with great sensitivity and real meaning, Daisy feeling that her loss and grieving may have been the casue of her breakdown.
Sally’s (Fiona Main) transformation from the jovial if somewhat needy hostess to the desperate mother who is pushed to reveal that she knew that the son she has always had on a pedestal was a drug dealer was a heartbreaking moment as she loses the plot and becomes distraught . A very powerful moment. Richard (Simon Boothroyd) the sometimes boorish husband was extremely well played with sincerity and humour. However this facade was dropped when he poured out his heart to Dick (Chris Cotter) in the garden shed. In a very lengthy monologue he relives the horror of his son’scrime scene and the torment he has lived through eventually bursting into tears. Alcohol has been his saviour. Another wonderful piece of acting.
Trying always to calm troubled waters is Valerie (Elspeth Whyte) who gave a ‘lovely’ controlled performance as she aims to find the best in everything. Her husband Dick who has difficulty keeping his hands off Lizzie brought humour to the piece as he keeps talking out of turn and putting his foot in it but was never overplayed.
This was certainly a most moving production with very strong characterisations by all of the cast. The pacing and timing thoughout was immaculate, the cast never afraid of the long silences and dramatic pauses which created tension. The intensity of the moment broken by humerous one liners delivered particularly well by Richard, Dick and Daisy. The bonding of the characters at the end of the play after such turmoil was quite emotional and I did like the final tableau with the star on the tree lit as the ghostly Christopher ( Gordon Horne) stands in the doorrway.
This was a first class piece of theatre by an excellent cast who played well together resulting in a brilliant, memorable production.
Threepenny Theatricals you have set the bar high and I look forward to and wish you well with your future productions. Very many congratulations.