Article Title:Review: Hushabye Mountain
Category:Performance
Author or Credit:Larry Jenkins
Published on:19th May 2007 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Story ID:1723
Text:Hushabye Mountain Author: Jonathan Harvey Directed by John Humphries (In the Shape of a Square Theatre Company) Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre, Auckland Season ends 2 June 2007 In the Shape of a Square has arrived with this production of Jonathan Harvey's 1999 play “Hushabye Mountain”. The fledgling company of dedicated young and as yet mostly unknown actors is about to emerge as a force majeur in Auckland theatre life, and deservedly so, if this effort is built upon in future ventures. Harvey is, of course, the perpetrator of the wonderful “Beautiful Thing”, a gay coming-of-age drama, bittersweet and light. “Hushabye Mountain” is more like the monumental “Angels in America”, full of passion and heat, yet at the same time funny and fantastical. Production values are tops. Director John Humphries has demanded of his cast and technical team the very best, and they've responded in spades. Phillip Dexter's lighting design makes an impact from the beginning with whirling stars. The sparse set never suffers any limitations thanks to the cleverness Dexter employs in creating the right atmosphere – blinding light in the hospital scenes, soft amber for a twighlight beach, throbbing coloured panels to suggest a disco. Robert Hunte adeptly executes both lighting and sound. The costumes, by Carlson and Michael Pattison, with the help of Astra Bridal, Dress Circle, and Costume Magic, give the production an undeniable gloss and air of class, and choreographer Sian Tucker moves the cast around magically. The performances, using effortlessly-maintained and authentic accents from Liverpool, London, Yorkshire, Scotland, Ireland and the USA, all vie with one another for excellence and it would be difficult to pinpoint a “star”. Linda Cartwright's Beryl is suitably mad and infuriating, even if her Judy (Garland) wasn't so convincing; Serena Cotton is positively splendid as Lana, Gareth Reeves wrings all the emotion possible out of the role of Connor, and Myles Tankle is a sexy, sympathetic Ben, probably not an easy character to develop. Perhaps Matt Wilson's Lee and Kristian Lavercombe's Danny stand out of an already dazzling cast by the intensity of their portrayals, the one oafish, selfish, but loveable, and the other utterly beguiling in his charm and vulnerability. This is an extremely important and momentous play for the GLBT community, reminding us that, in the words of a recent AIDS Memorial Service theme in New Zealand, “It's Not Over Yet.” Congratulations to Producer Tom McRae and all concerned for bringing “Hushabye Mountain” to the stage in this country and reminding us of that. Please get out and see this play. The rewards are many. Note: Regular GayNZ.com performance reviewer Larry Jenkins works by day for the NZ AIDS Foundation. The opening night performance of Hushabye Mountain was a benefit performance for the NZAF. Larry Jenkins - 19th May 2007    
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