One day in the life of a gay British Professor living in Santa Monica in the aftermath of deep loss. As the freshly widowed George attempts to pick up the pieces of his life after the death of longtime partner Jim, he seeks refuge in fellow Brit and old-time pal, Charley and then, Kenny, his curious and flirtatious pupil.
Originally a book by Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man was previously adapted to film by Tom Ford and now to the stage in a more faithful adaptation by Simon Reade. Though the characters and plot are rich with potential, Philip Wilson’s production trades melancholy for melodrama in frequently pushed, over-emotional performances by leading members of the cast.
On exquisite display, however, are the designs of Caitlin Abbott (Costumes and Set), Peter Harrison (Lights), and Beth Duke (Sound and Composition). A dream design trifecta. Abbott’s concrete facade that signalled an all too familiar minimalism and lack of decision quickly transformed time and again, proving myself wrong and itself as malleable and worthy as the ensemble who shape-shift and revolve around it, gracefully redressing it in between scenes. Abbott’s costume design evokes a sense of both time and place, filling the otherwise mid-century greyness with colour and life. Harrison’s lights are at times gorgeously subtle and always helpfully indicative of location. Beth Duke’s sound design is present throughout and supported greatly by the gorgeous scoring which seems, like George, to avoid the longing, heartbreak, and pain beneath the surface.
I was compelled by the challenge and feat pulled off by ensemble members Freddie Gaminara and Phoebe Pryce. Both prove, in their various roles, a commitment to character, dialect, physicality, and most importantly conviction. Their charm and truthfulness even in the smallest of parts was a testament to their promising talents.
The play at large is stronger and more meaningful in Act Two where we sit for longer with the characters and their conversations. Nevertheless, the play holds up in its new found medium, and for Isherwood fans makes a nice debut at the Park Theatre.
It runs through 26 November.
Review: Matthew Pierce Photos: Mitzide Margary