THEATRE REVIEW: Tuesdays With Morrie

Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom's script, 'Tuesdays With Morrie', must be among the best recent American scripts for two actors. It's hard to beat a story with this much humanity, humour, and wisdom.
THEATRE REVIEW: Tuesdays With Morrie
Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom's script, 'Tuesdays With Morrie', must be among the best recent American scripts for two actors. It's hard to beat a story with this much humanity, humour, and wisdom. Mark Kilmurry directs Glenn Hazeldine and Daniel Mitchell in this production at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney. The heart of the story goes something like this: Mitch is a Detroit sports writer breathing in the high-octane vapour of his own celebrity (a newspaper column, some radio spots, and TV appearances). He discovers - by accident - that a university teacher who had immense influence over him 16 years earlier is dying of motor neurone disease. Mitch visits Morrie and quickly finds himself falling under the spell of the older man again. Thus, 'Tuesdays with Morrie' become a fixture on Mitch's otherwise packed calendar. Essentially, the play is a series of conversations with a conventional story arc jogging along beside. It's also a study of the physical deterioration that accompanies an illness like motor neurone disease. Thankfully, Kilmurry, Hazeldine, and Mitchell avoid the temptation - which the script probably invites - to squeeze on the sentimentality. Mitchell is remarkable as Morrie" he picked up the role from his father, Warren, who was cast for this production but had to go back to the UK suddenly. Daniel Mitchell is literally a ring-in here, but it's not apparent. The almost full-house at the Ensemble last night (January 6) got their money's worth. Occasionally, this production squeaks like a pair of new shoes. But with a few showings, it could develop the ragged easiness that it needs (and which Morrie would probably have appreciated), and it could easily develop into a first-class production for a local theatre. Ensemble Theatre Tuesdays With Morrie By Jeffrey Hatcher & Mitch Albom By arrangement with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd on behalf of Dramatists Play Service, Inc New York Director Mark Kilmurry Venue: Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli, NSW, 206 Dates: Tues Jan 6 to Sun Feb 15. Performances: Tue–Fri 8.15pm, Sat 8.30pm, Sun 5pm, Thurs 11am till Jan 28. (Check website for Feb perf times) Prices: $38 - $62 (booking charges may apply) Bookings: 02 9929 0644 or www.ensemble.com.au

Owen Gill

Thursday 8 January, 2009

About the author

Owen Gill is a Sydney-based reviewer for Arts Hub.