Back to 2015
No ticket, as they just give you a number at the bar you have to return when you go inside.
I remember the Australian movie with Russell Crowe, which I liked much: the masculine actor played an unusual role once in his life. There are some different details compared to the play, some scenes were cut from the story, but the show worked perfectly on stage.
Even my favorite scene, when Jeff talks about the lonely woman he met on a train one day, that needed a flashback in the film, is well explained with lines in the play and is very moving, makes you feel all the loneliness of the characters, the sense of loss when one loses a partner.
What it’s lovely is the relationship between a father and his son, is that they have a complicity that we hardly see in other stories, the man even buys gay porn magazines for his son. They both feel the pain of being single and support each other. They still live together at their home, which is much intimate and full of memories. I like to imagine it could work in a female version with a mother and a lesbian daughter, dating respectively a man and a girl.
The grandmother of Jeff was gay herself, so the father has always told him tales about her and her partner. He’s much proud of his son. And yet inside his heart he still hopes he could date a woman when Jeff tells him he had sex with some colleagues of his office and liked it. But Jeff is sure of his own identity and tells his father so.
Despite they are so fond of each other, their menage is not always easy. They have discussions as well.
The father tries to share with his son his much more experienced point of view. But he doesn’t realize when it’s time for him to leave the room, that creates problems between Jeff and the boy he’s dating, Greg. He is not used to speak openly with his parents and finds hard to enjoy intimacy while the man is around. And their relationship breaks up.
Being so understanding, Harry hopes his son finally finds his soulmate and looks for someone himself with a dating agency. And it’s here where, surprisingly, the traditional roles in one couple are reversed: it’s the woman he dated who can’t accept that Jeff is gay and that the father encourages him living his life. She goes crazy when she sees the gay magazines, worrying they could belong to Harry.
When Harry falls ill (we don’t see the moment when the stroke arrives, like in the movie, he’s already on a wheelchair in the second part) he can only speak inside his mind and tells the audience that he regrets to see his son wasting his young life taking care of him. But something good happens, at the end.
The text was written about 20 years ago and it’s still so actual. We think that nowaday people have no problems meeting someone who can love them, but somehow it’s getting harder. I think this is a message the play wants to tell: we don’t have to waste any occasion to be happy.
It’s also a story the fine cast of just four actors play with irony. The duo formed by Stephen Connery-Brown and Tim McFarland is very nice, they seem related for real. Connery-Brown played a much different role compared to “The Glass Protégé” and I could appreciate him much more in “The Sum Of Us“. Tim McFarland and Rory Hawkins are two fine Australian actors who have a good synergy on stage. Annabel Pemberton is full of energy and very funny when she descovers the truth about Jeff!
This is a play that for sure needed a longer run!
Notes on the set design
The Above The Stag theatre is a small venue, but the details in staging the play were very accurate. For the first time happened that the staff asked us to leave during the interval, to change the stage. In the first part the set design recreate a kitchen and the living room with some furniture and props and a sofa in the middle of the room. The entrance on one side. In the second part there’s a garden with a bench in the middle.
Meanwhile, here the cast& crew list with Twitter accounts:
Harry played by Stephen Connery-Brown
his son Jeff played by Tim McFarland
Greg played by Rory Hawkins @roryhp
Joyce played by Annabel Pemberton @AnnabelPemberto
Director: Gene David Kirk @GeneDavidKirk
Play official account: The Sum of Us @thesumofusplay