Gadget by The Blog Doctor.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Recently we saw Joanna Murray-Smoth's play Ninety at the Fairfax. We have seen her wonderful Bombshells starring the incomperable Carolyn O'Connor, which we enjoyed wonderfully, so we had high expectations for this play.

When we entered the theatre, it was obvious that this was a presentation in the round, with a circular stage and seats behind the stage. We sat in the front row.

The publicity photo

I didn't notice, Isabel (Melinda Butel) enter the stage and start working at an easel - during the play we learned that she is a restored of paintings. William (Kim Gyngell) entered from the centre aisle and the play began. The stage started turning very slowly.

William and Isabel are a separated couple, and Isabel has asked William to give her ninety minutes to make her pitch that they still have a relationship that is worth saving. This is an interesting theatrical device, giving a finite time for the action to take place, but in the real world this seems a contrived and unlikely scenario. William has made it big in Hollywood as an actor and is engaged to a beautiful, younger woman, who he will soon marry.

The play becomes a vehicle to tell their story in flashback. These were handled very will, signaled by lighting changes, and by subtle changes in the actors demeanour.

Half way through the play William almost leaves but Isabel persuades him to stay the full length of time that he had promised. Soon after it is revealed that they had a child that had died. In the end it seemed to me that this was the main link between the couple. If this is true then there is not much in the marriage worth saving, but William becomes more emotionally involved in the process after the revelation and when Isabel announces that time is up, William looks up in surprise - maybe even shock.

Do they get back together - naturally that is left unresolved. The photo frames that I had barely noticed during the play, were now suddenly filled with memories. Does that signify success for Isabel or just the fact that they has discussed many aspects of their former life in the last ninety minutes?

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