David Williamson's latest play - Let The Sunshine - tells the story of Toby, a documentary film maker, and his wife Ros, a publisher, who have left Sydney behind for the sunshine of Noosa.
Let The Sunshine: Ensemble Theatre
David Williamson's latest play - Let The Sunshine - tells the story of Toby (William Zappa), a documentary film maker, and his wife Ros (Georgie Parker), a publisher, who have left Sydney behind for the sunshine of Noosa – a place Toby fondly remembers from his childhood. However, Noosa is no longer what it used to be, not least thanks to developers like Ron (Andrew McFarlane). He and his wife Natasha (Kate Raison) have become rich by getting rid of the mangrove forests and putting ghastly high-rises in their place. Natasha and Ros went to school together, but, as they both insist on separate occasions, they are not really friends.
Nevertheless, that is enough reason for the four of them to socialise, even though they hate each other's guts – and political views. Toby and Ros are left-wing greenies, old hippies who still believe in making the world a better place, whereas Ron's and Natasha's right-wing attitudes represent the stereotypical redneck Queenslanders.
Things start coming to a boil when Emma (Emma Jackson), Ron's and Natasha's daughter and a hardworking career lawyer, and Rick (Justin Stewart Cotta), Toby's and Ros' unsuccessful musician/bartender son who at 30 is still waiting for his breakthrough, meet – with unforeseen consequences.
The brilliantly funny, fast-paced dialogue is vintage Williamson, with excellent pacing and timing from the cast. Sandra Bates, artistic director of Ensemble Theatre, has previously directed eleven other plays by David Williamson; she's a veteran, and it shows – the timing and delivery of sharp exchanges and witty one-liners are nothing short of perfect.
Graham Maclean's stage design is simple yet beautiful, evoking Noosa with whites and blues reminiscent of summer, sunshine and the deep blue sea. The light (designed by Matthew Marshall who looks like he should be on stage) coming through an opaque pane with shady leaf shapes adds to this calm, serene holiday feeling with the lure of an easy, laid-back life.
When the drama between the characters intensifies in the second half, the comedy lets off a bit. At the same time, a number of very short scenes make the play lose dramatic and comedic momentum and take some of the steam out of what's happening. We also increasingly lose sight of what is going on with Rick and Emma – it feels like they're mostly there to move the plot forward and bring matters to a head rather than being real characters themselves. It never becomes quite clear why they do what they do, what lies behind their decisions and why they change the way they do. Their storylines also become a bit too parallel: The hippie slacker who turns into a successful entrepreneur when he finally stops dreaming the dream and faces up to reality versus the tough lawyer who becomes a stay-at-home mum because she's always secretly hated her job is neither very nuanced nor very subtle. Jackson's over-the-top intensity as Emma doesn't help matters either.
The ending is classic Williamson – everything levels out, everybody changes a bit, everybody gives in a little, everybody's happy. As with many Williamson plays, all the tension ultimately seems to go nowhere.
It feels as if the playwright himself refuses to have a moral stance on things, and the different beliefs and opinions mean nothing more than the air that was used to express them. In this sense, Williamson's comedies offend nobody, at the cost of losing some of their bite. But even if the ending is ultimately unsatisfying, getting there is still a hell of a lot of fun.
Let The Sunshine
by David Williamson
Directed by Sandra Bates
Venue: Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli NSW 2061
7 May – 4 July, Tue to Fri 8.15pm, Sat 5pm and 8.30pm, Sun 5pm (until 14 June only), Thu 11am, Tue 11am on 16 and 23 June); touring nationally from July 7
Tickets: AUD 22 – AUD 63
Bookings: 02 9929 0644 or visit the Ensemble Theatre’s website