The Mistress & A Solitary ChoiceLeft - The Mistress. Cover - A Solitary Choice

Holden Street Theatres has once again provided Adelaide with some of its finest drama, serving up rich and rewarding professional theatre in its latest Director’s Choice Season.

The 2008 theatrical menu offers two one-hour plays that explore the deepest feelings and thoughts of two very different women.

First on the theatrical bill of fare is Martha Lott, directed by Phillip Parslow, in the Australian premiere of The Mistress, a play that has already won acclaim in Edinburgh.

Arnold Wesker’s
script is complicated and demanding as a single woman faces her inner turmoil over her love affair with a man, the husband of one of her closest friends. Lott is technically brilliant as she portrays the fashion designer Samantha’s mental and emotional gymnastics in alternately facing and avoiding her betrayal of her friend. Conscience wars with desire as the mistress struggles to come to terms with her duplicity. 

As the play progresses Lott’s character splits into four voices in her head, represented by three fashion dummies as well as her own personality. Lott magnificently weaves her way in and out of each character, morphing in and out with professional ease. This is powerful theatre and yet, it is difficult to find an emotional connection with Wesker’s self-obsessed Samantha. Lott does her best to portray the vulnerability but the narcissism somehow repels and the result is a fine appreciation of Lott’s skills rather than an emotional connection with the character.

This is in stark contrast to Sheila Duncan’s play A Solitary Choice, the second offering of the night. This is spellbinding theatre that engages from the start and delivers a gripping and satisfying banquet.

Tamara Lee is astounding as the unhappily married Ruth, who has reached a crossroads in her life. Lee powerfully portrays her character’s transition, from the moment the first seed of dissatisfaction for her current life sets in through to the ultimate conclusion. Hers is an emotionally harrowing ride, and yet recognisable for anyone who has reached such a cross roads in their life. 

This is a tour de force performance by Lee as layer by layer she strips away the veneer of the seemingly straight-laced, suit-clad Ruth and bares the soul of a full-bodied and sumptuous woman. Herein lies the choice, and herein lies the dilemma. Having awoken the wild girl-woman within, which way does she turn? Lee portrays every nuance, every emotion, every doubt and all of the turmoil involved in such a choice. She is ably supported by Michael Allen’s direction, and Andrew Kay’s lighting is inspired as different angles and colours enhance different facial aspects and draw forth different aspects of Ruth’s personality. It is no wonder that the audience exploded with rapturous applause as this one-woman play came to a close.

Holden Street Directors Choice 2008
A Solitary Choice
by Sheila Duncan
The Mistress
by Arnold Wesker

Venue: The Studio | Holden Street Theatres
Opening Night: 12th July
Season: Wednesday to Saturday, July 16 - 19 and 23 - 26 @ 7.30 p.m
Tickets: $21.50 - $31.50
Bookings: VenueTix 8225 8888

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