We see the reactions to the words, which tell us just as much as the words themselves. The staging is unusual, dispensing with many theatrical convention. This perhaps unsettles the audience to begin with but ultimately it is the words that move us.
Kathryn Howden delivers a beautifully judged performance as mother Mary, who lives for her family. Equally impressive are Kyle McPhail as her son, immersed in the fantasy world of computer games, Jenny Hulse the daughter about to leave the nest, and teacher husband Joe (Jonathan Hacket).The cast in completed by the excellent Tina Gray as the grandmother living in the past.
All of them are jolted into a different world with an event which will change all of their lives. The grief we see expressed is moving and realistic but written and acted in such a way that while upsetting to watch is compelling. Given the subject matter, this could have been a bleak play: the fact that it isn't says much for the skill of Clifford's writing.
In the first part the play may be undramatic in staging but certainly not in emotion. There are surprises to come in the second part, which are beautifully handled by director Mark Thomson and designer Frances O'Connor. Clifford has written a terrific play that has a great connection with its audience and judging by the rapt attention paid, Every One was listening to every beautifully crafted word.
- Keith Paterson