Genesian Theatre: Love From A Stranger - Review by Daniel Conway
There is something so charming about the Genesian Theatre. In the heart of the city, tucked away, a small performance space that has housed some of Australia's premier talents. You sit there and think, I wonder who else has sat here? With names like John Bell and Baz Luhrmann as part of their history, who else has sat in these seats watching these legends hone their craft. There is a magic in this theatre and I think that magic is clear in every production you see there. This is a space and a group of people that value theatre and the craft. Love From a Stranger is full of stage craft. Acting, designing, directing. A community of people who care about bringing a project to life.
This small ensemble cast is wonderful. Every person acts their heart out and finds levels in their performance. Sam Walter as Bruce is a particular stand out. Walter's smarmy confidence and darker notes elicited great response from the audience. He had a strong physical presence that heightened the atmosphere on stage. This is all the more impressive with the knowledge that Walter only signed onto the production weeks before opening. Walter performed with script in hand, but after the first few moments on stage you forget the script was ever there. This is a testament to him and the whole cast for working like a well oiled machine and keeping the pace moving.
The object of Bruce's desires Cecily is played by Emilia Kriketos. Kriketos is so charming on stage. She is just so likeable and establishes a great rapport with her co stars that all of her relationships feel lived in. Another performer who managed to establish their character right away is Charlotte Launay. Playing the delightfully annoying Aunt Lou or the stern Dr Gribble, Launay commits to the character fully and makes clear and effective choices to differentiate them on stage. I have been fortunate to see Kimberlea Smith perform many times and I firmly believe no one does exasperated one liners like her. Smith is wonderful as part of an ensemble as she is always present, always reacting and this performance is no different. Her Mavis is kind, sharp and witty. Matt Doherty does something wonderful with Nigel, a character that in less capable hands could be very grating and unsympathetic. This is not the case in this performance, Doherty injects a lot of warmth personality to the character. The ensemble is rounded out by Rod Stewart and Claire Ji Eun Yi playing Hodgson and Ethel. Both add such lightness to their scenes and and make the most of their time on stage.
There was so much about the technical aspects of this production that I liked. Director Tui Clark lead her team brilliantly. Every detail was thought about and looked well crafted. I loved the set and the simplicity of it. Often period shows will clutter the stage with stuff, but the fairly bare setting with come key pieces was so effective. A massive shout out needs to be given to Susan Carveth's costumes. When the first scene opened someone near me exclaimed "I love that dress" and they were right to. Everything looks wonderfully curated, everything fit the actors so flatteringly. Costume is so important because it helps create the illusion, and this aspect was nailed. Reading the list of names who were involved in this production it is clear that is was a community effort and everyone involved in lighting, sound, stage crew should be congratulated.
If I have criticism of this show, it is nothing the happened on stage but with the script itself, something that Clark and her cast and crew had no control over. On opening night aside from some normal nerves and clunkiness because of the cast change mentioned earlier, I could not fault what was happening.
Love From A Stranger is an engaging and beautifully crafted show that deserves to be seen. I give this performance 3.75 Photographs from mysterious darkrooms out of 5
Photos provided by Craig O'Regan