BY SYLVIE WOODS
Sunday in the Park with George
The Depot Theatre, 7 September
What’d you miss?
- Little Triangle’s debut show
- A work inspired by pointillist painting
- A canny portrayal of talking dogs
Just as we find ourselves stuffed and sartorially squeezed after the food-filled festive season, fringe theatre’s styling options are restricted by big, bulging, budgetary love handles. Sunday in the Park with George can’t be done on fringe theatre pocket change, can it?
As I am familiar with Little Triangle’s initiators – high achievers Conrad Hamill, Rose McClelland and Alexander Andrews – something cautiously optimistic inside me said it can. Indeed, come showtime, I’m watching the work of a troupe of expert stylists. How did they pull this off?
James Lapine and Sondheim’s work is inspired by French pointillist painter Georges Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Performers are typically swathed in spectacularly expensive costumes, required to take on several characters throughout, challenged by Sondheim’s tricky vocal elements, and expected to work through myriad delicate set changes.
I can’t imagine that rearranging a crime saga into a haiku poem could be any more difficult than the dress-down of this show’s accompaniment by cellist Conrad Hamill and pianist Alexander Mau. In this precariousness, there is no room to hide the wrong note, the tedious phrase, the dragging line.
As such, the intimacy proposed by the two instrumentalists kept actors on their toes. Actors were uninhibited, mastering comic timing at every point, transitioning seamlessly, made more alert to the importance of detail in the closeness of both the instrumentalists and the audience. In the chaos of a large production, subtlety is lost. Little Triangle succeeded here by prescribing a great deal of subtlety to this interpretation. Singing was of a professional standard. Movement was mechanical in its efficiency yet wonderfully vibrant and natural. Little Triangle’s casting was clever, there were no standouts; there was nothing to stand out from. Performers were a carefully-directed, well-rehearsed, animated team of superb professionals.
Owen Elsley was perfectly chosen for the nervous, introverted and sensitive George. Katelin Koprivec delivered a particularly funny performance as George’s mother’s nurse as did George’s mother, Tisha Kelemen. Partners-in-crime Caitlin Rose Harris and Victoria Luxton, both talented comedians, almost brought me to tears, flirting with the instrumentalists in the background at one point in what was a bold and quite unpredictably effective comedic moment. The hilarious portrayal of the talking dogs by Richard Woodhouse and Jack Dawson demonstrated canny, unique and careful direction. All performers’ comedic abilities are to be commended. Georgina Walker’s gorgeous singing was a highlight, if there was one.
This was Little Triangle’s first production. It was a tremendous success. I look forward to many more nights of tight, inventive theatre with this group and I predict big things.