An exceptional performance was given by Chenoa Deemal as Jess Wright, the protagonist and narrator of this overall jovial yet poignant piece of theatre.
The cast of The Longest Minute. Photo via Jute Theatre.
Walking towards the JUTE Theatre, I was filled with the anticipation of grand final day. The opening night of The Longest Minute was finally here. Entering the theatre had an authentic rugby league feel – synthetic grass led us through a blue and gold door curtain and into North Queensland Cowboys country.While the crowd gathered before the show, a traditional smoking ceremony was lit by elder Fourmile to open this post-modern melding of sport, theatre and race relations. This welcome only further heightened the anticipation. With a drink in hand from the bar to settle the nerves I noticed it was 10 mins out from time. The loudspeaker sounded and the gates were flung open to admit the audience filled with excitement. We jostled towards our seats in the grandstand.
The excitement must have been ten-fold backstage for the cast who came out five minutes early to successfully dismantle the fourth wall separating the stadium on the stage from the spectators.
Just as the excitement reached fever pitch, the crowd hushed as the whistle sounded for the kick off. From the moment of the opening tableaux everyone was immersed for the entire play.
An exceptional performance was given by Chenoa Deemal as Jess Wright, the protagonist and narrator of this overall jovial yet poignant piece of theatre. Her skill at keeping the audience captivated throughout an entire 80 plus minutes was surprising for such a young actress and a highlight. Jess, along with the rest of the Wright family were fully believable as the typical football loving family. Parents Frank and Margaret Wright played by Louise Brehmer and Mark Sheppard respectively, may give the play many humorous moments however their performances provided a strong and stable foundation for the tension to build towards its inevitable climax. Among the many laughs, the most touching relationship is between brother Laurie played by Jeremy Ambrum and sister Jess. Their connection is undeniable throughout.
In order for the play to move along succinctly, both co-writers, Robert Kronk and Nadine McDonald-Dowd, realised several bit parts were needed. Both Lafe Charlton and Cairns’ own David Terry, supported the central family of characters tremendously with versatile and energetic performances, which helped the play barrel along seamlessly at 110 percent.
Award winning lighting designer Jason Glenwright lent his talents to this project. His work enhances both the intimate mood of the down to earth subject material and the set which was designed by the combined creative genius of Simona Cosentini and Simone Tesorieri. The use of synthetic grass and an illuminating scoreboard gives a simple yet effective impression of a football field.
The Longest Minute
A Coproduction from Debase Productions, Jute Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre
Written by: Robert Kronk and Nadine McDonald-Dowd
Director: Bridgett Boyle
Designers: Simona Cosentini, Simone Tesorieri
Lighting designer: Jason Glenwright
Actors: Jeremy Ambrum, Louise Brehmer, Lafe Charlton,
Chenoa Deemal, Mark Sheppard, David Terry
4-12 May 2018: JUTE Theatre, 96 Abbott Street
17-19 May 2018: Dancenorth, Cnr of Stanley Street and Walker Street Townsville
23-29 May 2018: Cremorne Theatre QPAC, Brisbane
28 June 2018: Rockhampton
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