The story of Candlesticks takes its audience on a journey of changing religious beliefs. Written by Deborah Freeman, the cast skilfully portrays how traditional practices can bring people together but just as easily drive them apart. The conflict between Christian and Jewish beliefs has a central role throughout the play.
On the eve of the Jewish holiday Passover, university student Jenny (Sophie McMahon) warms up the space with her bubbly presence to confess to her mother Louise (Mary Tillett) that she is changing her core beliefs. Soon after this occurs, the audience is introduced to the two other characters in the story, Louise’s neighbour and close friend, Julia (Kathryn Worth) and her son Ian (James Duddy).
Deborah intelligently chooses to dive into the different character reactions after hearing Jenny’s news. This gives the actors the opportunity to explore the emotional rollercoaster of how prejudice can set relationships alight. More importantly, the actors as a unit expertly demonstrate that acceptance is just a stone throw away.
With an emotionally packed story on a simplistic living room set, I was routing for the actors to rise to the challenge and sparks to fly on a vulnerable stage. However, at most I felt a warm glow at the play’s peak. There were strong moments in character, especially from Julia/Kathryn, who glowed when displaying the heart-warming care she had for Jenny and had a convincing presence in the hot and cold friendship with Louise/Mary. Unfortunately, my heartstrings did not pluck for the love between the childhood sweethearts Jenny /Sophie and Ian/James, as the actors showed an awkward flicker of emotion towards one another. This especially comes clear when Jenny/Sophie recites that her face is covered in tears and disappointingly I could not see one trickling down her face.
Overall, Candlesticks will send the audience through a series of laughter and sadness, as character development and thought-provoking topics seep throughout the play. The characters' emotions and connections were not as polished as one would hope for, but enough for audience members to build a bond with the characters and will spark a series of interesting conversations on the journey home.
It runs until 15 October.
Review: Ramsey Baghdadi Photo: Lidia Crisafulli