A Solitary Choice is a well crafted piece of theatre that lobs some difficult questions onto the playing field of life. It’s always fascinating to watch an individual struggle through the complexities of existence while sitting safely on the sidelines with some popcorn and a coke, but the confronting issues raised within this production undoubtedly call for a little audience participation.
A Solitary Choice presents us with Ruth, a standard, suburban, working Mum who has an out of character moment of infidelity and ends up coming away from the encounter pregnant, and knowing definitively it is a girl. Married and already a mother with a young son, the audience travels with Ruth through the physical and emotional journey of choosing a life pathway: the comfortable yet stale existence in which she is already embedded or the bohemian life she seems to assume will accompany the birth of her illegitimate daughter. It’s a simple structure for a story, yet raises a myriad of moral and personal questions.
The audience is never allowed to be passive in Ruth’s choice throughout the piece, bearing witness as she creates and describes the presumed life and tenacious character of her unborn daughter. A child embodied with passion and fire, she is a beautifully crafted character and to hear about her potential life is all at once a sheer delight and utterly heartbreaking. While dealing with the life and death issues inherent in Ruth’s choice though, the adulterous act which was the catalyst for her predicament cannot be ignored and this adds further complexity to the piece.
Tamara Lee’s performance in this production is superbly polished and engaging. She has an acute ability to include her audience in intimate moments of absolute heartache one minute, and public displays of exuberant glee the next.
The script by Sheila Duncan is a solid piece of writing and offers a fully realised understanding of what this decision means for Ruth. The one disappointment with the text, is in regards to the ways in which the men are portrayed throughout the story. They all seem to be either dull, arrogant, slightly misogynistic, close minded, unforgiving and/or opportunistic, and this tends to set Ruth as a victim in a situation for which she has to ultimately take responsibility. A Solitary Choice as a title really does function on many levels. It’s difficult not to make comparisons to Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine with the tone and format of this tale but there are no friendly walls to talk to here, and the content is definitely a shade darker.
Directed by Michael Allen, the gear changes in this one hour production are clear and concise and there’s little time to lose concentration or interest. It moves along at a cracking pace and so does the season here in Melbourne. With six shows only – this is one to go and see post haste! It’s well worth the effort.
Theatre Works and Michael Allen present
A Solitary Choice
by Shelia Duncan
Directed by Michael Allen
Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Dates/Times: 7:30pm, 2 – 6 August, 2011
Tickets: $25 Full, $15 Concession and Group 10+