Weekend escape to the bach proves no holiday in the sun

A PARTICULAR strength of Stephen Sinclair’s play The Bach, about escalating friction between four weekend holiday-makers is that it’s ideal for an amateur cast.

A comment as patronising as that would be shredded by Ayden Malone’s character Michael, an articulate journalist-waster, but the pace of Sinclair’s story helps carry actors whose confidence will grow now the opening night is out of the way.

The comedy-drama is set at the Tremewan family bach by an estuary where an away weekend at the bach should provide an opportunity for relaxation and reconciliation.

It does. At first. The Tremewan brothers’ nostalgia for the place is compromised by the “sunny dunny”, a public toilet built close to the property boundary.

There are, of course, issues deeper than a longdrop among the four characters.

Played with authentic gusto by Malone, the recently-returned Michael is the thorn in everyone’s sides.

He is brother to Walter Walsh’s Simon, an emotionally atrophied barrister but a top bloke.

Simon tries to smooth relations between Michael and his shrewish wife, Sally, played by Melissa Andrew.

Production assistant to screen-writer Sally, is Hana, played by Laurel Mitchell. Hana wants to reconnect with her Maori roots and warms to Michael’s ease with te reo.

That ease doesn’t last.

After a few drinks — and he likes a drink — Michael’s perceptiveness turns mean.

The Kiwi bach is a familiar icon in New Zealand culture.

Escalating tensions when family members come together is a familiar trope.

Audience wants to believe

Given such a familiar setting, and the intimate nature of Unity Theatre, the audience wants to believe in The Bach’s characters.

Walsh plays Melissa’s bullied husband well but could use some of Malone’s onstage expansiveness.

Mitchell’s character, too, deserves more boldness.

Hana convincingly bluffs through her grasp of Maori culture and Sally believes her.

As an actor, Mitchell could bring some of that bluff to her stage presence.

Director James Packman has ensured the play runs at a cracking pace.

The dialogue seems largely natural to the actors. Having said that, naturalism and stage presence are two different things.

Projection and boldness helps engage the audience more with characters.

Sinclair’s play builds to a satisfying crescendo in the first half and excoriating reveals in the second half.

Actors are swept along with the increase in domestic tension towards a poetic, poignant, and equally satisfying conclusion in a production well worth seeing.

A PARTICULAR strength of Stephen Sinclair’s play The Bach, about escalating friction between four weekend holiday-makers is that it’s ideal for an amateur cast.

A comment as patronising as that would be shredded by Ayden Malone’s character Michael, an articulate journalist-waster, but the pace of Sinclair’s story helps carry actors whose confidence will grow now the opening night is out of the way.

The comedy-drama is set at the Tremewan family bach by an estuary where an away weekend at the bach should provide an opportunity for relaxation and reconciliation.

It does. At first. The Tremewan brothers’ nostalgia for the place is compromised by the “sunny dunny”, a public toilet built close to the property boundary.

There are, of course, issues deeper than a longdrop among the four characters.

Played with authentic gusto by Malone, the recently-returned Michael is the thorn in everyone’s sides.

He is brother to Walter Walsh’s Simon, an emotionally atrophied barrister but a top bloke.

Simon tries to smooth relations between Michael and his shrewish wife, Sally, played by Melissa Andrew.

Production assistant to screen-writer Sally, is Hana, played by Laurel Mitchell. Hana wants to reconnect with her Maori roots and warms to Michael’s ease with te reo.

That ease doesn’t last.

After a few drinks — and he likes a drink — Michael’s perceptiveness turns mean.

The Kiwi bach is a familiar icon in New Zealand culture.

Escalating tensions when family members come together is a familiar trope.

Audience wants to believe

Given such a familiar setting, and the intimate nature of Unity Theatre, the audience wants to believe in The Bach’s characters.

Walsh plays Melissa’s bullied husband well but could use some of Malone’s onstage expansiveness.

Mitchell’s character, too, deserves more boldness.

Hana convincingly bluffs through her grasp of Maori culture and Sally believes her.

As an actor, Mitchell could bring some of that bluff to her stage presence.

Director James Packman has ensured the play runs at a cracking pace.

The dialogue seems largely natural to the actors. Having said that, naturalism and stage presence are two different things.

Projection and boldness helps engage the audience more with characters.

Sinclair’s play builds to a satisfying crescendo in the first half and excoriating reveals in the second half.

Actors are swept along with the increase in domestic tension towards a poetic, poignant, and equally satisfying conclusion in a production well worth seeing.

The Bach, directed by James Packman, runs at the Unity Theatre from November 24 to December 1 at 7.30pm. There are 4pm matinees on November 25 and 26. Tickets are available from i-Site.

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