Friday, 4 March 2011

Apologia

Robyn Nevin in Apologia (Photo: Jeff Busby)
This year I have joined a group of friends in attending plays performed by the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC). Our first play, seen on Wednesday night, was Apologia by Alexi Kaye Campbell, starring Robyn Nevin and directed by Jennifer Flowers.

Centred around a weekend family gathering, Apologia has a nice blend of comedy and drama so that I felt both entertained and intellectually stimulated. Kristin Miller is a renowned art historian and critic, whose two adult sons (Peter, a merchant banker, and Simon, a depressed writer) are upset that their mother has not even mentioned them in her latest book, a 'memoir' entitled Apologia. This opens up wounds stemming back to childhood, and leads to some bitter (and also tender) scenes of accusation and recrimination surrounding Kristin's decision to put career before family.

The relationships between the various characters are complex, with Robyn Nevin's fiercely intelligent and left-wing Kristin at the heart. The play explores themes of social responsibility, feminism, the role of art in society, idealism and loneliness. Robin Nevin is particularly fabulous in the lead role, playing a character that is unapologetic yet perhaps a tad regretful, incurably judgmental, committed to fighting for social justice, and yet ultimately lonely as she cannot heal the rift between her and her sons.

The other characters are Trudi (Peter's American fiancee), Claire (Simon's soap star girlfriend) and Kristin's long-time friend Hugh -- these all contribute to the nuanced undertones and sub-texts of the various conversations, plus in the case of Hugh provide some comic relief.

Definitely an enjoyable night. For far more detailed and insightful reviews than mine, see here and here.

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