An ageing couple flee Melbourne’s cold for the warmer far North Queensland and a change of lifestyle, but Frank is soon beset by heart-problems and Frances has to deal with possessive, needy daughters.
In the 1987 film of David Williamson’s play the principals were Leo McKern and Julia Blake – hard acts to follow – but Sydney Theatre Company’s production has Bryan Brown and Greta Scacchi, so sparks should fly.
Written in 1979, it’s sometimes assumed to be about Williamson’s move to Sydney; in fact it’s about the experiences of his mother-in-law, a gentle and perceptive woman who’d remarried to an older man – an opinionated, intelligent, ex-Communist. The busybody neighbour who was a pest to her husband, and the doctor whose patience was tried by being questioned about the quality of his treatment, are based on her recollections.
The concept of the ‘grey nomad’ is now an established one but “. . .living in paradise isn’t quite enough without having a social context of friends, families and meaningful activities to fill in the time,” says Williamson.
Williamson also says that as he’s aged, the play has taken on a more personal relevance for him – as it may for everyone. (MM)
Jan 9-Mar 22, Sydney Theatre Company, Pier 4/5, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay, $50-85, 9250 1777, sydneytheatre.com.au
BY MICHAEL MUIR
Editor’s note: Due to a recently sustained back injury Greta Scacchi has had to withdraw from the production on medical advice. Alison Whyte will take on the role of Frances.