From July 10th until August 9th, the New Theatre presents Lanford Wilson’s “The Book Of Days”. The play is just as complex, engaging and entertaining as to be expected from this Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. Not only does the New Theatre respect the play and it’s themes, its goes beyond to create emotionally intricate characters and production-wise, this performance was excellent, all aspects considered.
This fast-paced play is quick witted, even linguistically poetic, revealing character, and plot twists. It’s a dialogue heavy play, often using monologues to drive the plot and character complexities. Commendations to the cast for embodying their characters, giving passionately convincing performances and for delivering the rich dialogue flawlessly.
The plot follows a small town in Missouri in the aftermath of a violent tornado and the death of a prominent town figure. In a Dylan Thomas-esque approach, we see all the lives of the townsfolk entwine as we become privy to their secrets and relations. The release of information is perfect and the production team have done justice to the rise and fall of tension, I was glued the whole time. I feel that this play can often be geared to focus on the protagonist, Ruth Hoch (played by Kate Fraser) and her crusading allusions to Bernard Shaw’s “St Joan”. However, this particular performance gave equal weighting to all the townsfolk and this, in my opinion, gave the play a richer, deeper complexity.
The play is a social comment, a magnification on human corruption and interactions and as expected, the ending is, on the whole unsatisfactory. I left the theatre irritated by the outcome. This is a true testament to the cast and production team because over the course of the play, I became emotionally invested in the characters due to the stellar performances from the cast.
The use of space was seamless and economical. Having all cast members kept on stage made the play dynamic and their interactions with the set and props was effective, even innovative, (stage interaction possibly reminiscent of the Sydney Theatre Company’s recent season of “The Secret River”). The lighting was evocative of atmosphere and on the whole, this performance was entertaining, accessible and I thoroughly enjoyed the night.