Theatre Review: The End of the Golden Weather

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Tim Carlsen and Keisha Castle-Hughes deliver striking interpretations of The End of the Golden Weather's compelling characters. Photo / Supplied
Tim Carlsen and Keisha Castle-Hughes deliver striking interpretations of The End of the Golden Weather's compelling characters. Photo / Supplied

If a classic is defined as a work that stands the test of time, The End of the Golden Weather is doing a solid job of earning the accolade.

Around 50 years after it was written, Bruce Mason's masterpiece continues to astound, entertain and reveal deeper levels of meaning.

The subject matter seems an unlikely source for great drama: A young boy fishes up memories of a childhood marked by Christmas dinners, amateur theatrics and lazy days at the beach.

But in the second act, all of the jumbled recollections coalesce into a strange encounter with a mentally retarded character who is a source of amusement for the beach-side community.

By avoiding any heavy-handed signposting of universal themes and shunning the usual upbeat ending, Mason allows the audience to find their own way into the boy's growing realisation that he can assert his own individuality against the current of family, friends and community.

ATC's production brings together an attractive young cast, and director Murray Lynch delivers some finely choreographed ensemble pieces.

The production features equal-opportunity casting, with each member of the nine-person troupe getting a crack at the lead roles.

This delivered an intriguing variety of interpretations but for me it soon became an irritation and seemed to work against the wonderfully idiosyncratic voice of the playwright.

The rotation policy provided moments for each member of the cast to shine and several stood out with powerfully individualistic performances: Byron Coll brought a manic edge to his portrayal of a child throwing his heart and soul into a family concert only to be upstaged by his brother's insouciant clowning.

Tim Carlsen's commedia dell'arte-inflected take on Firpo's physical awkwardness allowed the character to retain a sense of dignity.

Keisha Castle-Hughes' captivating physical presence and down-to-Earth interpretations provide a welcome relief from some of the more over-the-top performances.

The minor characters were often played as burlesque caricatures with various aunts and nosey neighbours resembling the Wicked Witch of the West while the parish priest and the English teacher seemed to be channelling Monty Python's Upper Class Twit of the Year gag.

Theatre

What: The End of the Golden Weather.
Where: Maidment Theatre.
When: Until September 24.

- NZ Herald

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