The Kingfisher, by William Douglas Home Theatre review
Fancy a romantic threesome after a fifty-year hiatus?
The Kingfisher, written by British playwright, William Douglas Home, is a romantic comedy about a long-lost love that is reignited after fifty years. Sir Cecil Warburton was a playboy until he met Evelyn Rivers in 1928 and fell instantly in love with her. A brief romantic courtship ensued with Cecil and Evelyn binding their love when they shared their first kiss under a beech tree. The following day Evelyn is discouraged to continue the courtship by an acquaintance who discredits Cecil’s character and intentions. She leaves immediately for London and on the rebound accepts a marriage proposal to a man she’s not in love with but finds amicable.
Fifty years later, when Cecil hears that Evelyn’s husband has passed away, he invites her to his home. Cecil dealt with the loss of Evelyn by writing her a love letter in the form of a novel, which he called, Rosemary. The novel was a huge success and enabled him to purchase the land where the beech tree was…the place of their first kiss. He built a beautiful home and an outdoor setting next to the beech tree. This is where the play takes place.
Director, Nathan Schulz has done an exceptional job of presenting this romantic story. The stage setting was breathtaking and the attention to detail is to be commended. The visual presentation and props certainly enhanced my enjoyment of The Kingfisher. Schulz choice of cast was also to be commended. Although one would expect a butler’s emotions to remain in check, Hawkins (Graham Scott) played the role with exaggerated comedic gestures which extracted quite a few laughs from the audience. I feel this approach worked on the basis that without the comedic relief this wordy play may have been a snooze.
On an emotional level, I felt it flat-lined between Cecil (Chris Hawkins) and Evelyn (Viviane Gian). Considering they had nursed their love for fifty years, there was little more than an exchange of words between them. Some tender emotion, touch or body language between them would have been more engaging to watch. Maybe it’s a British thing to restrain ones emotions but on stage a little zest between them would have lifted spirits and equalised the attention that was mostly to Hawkins favour. It was not until the end of the play that we saw a burst of emotion from Cecil that made me sit up and pay attention. This exchange between Cecil and Hawkins was touching and masterfully played out. The performances given by each actor were excellent. Special moments were Evelyn’s tipsy state, although I would have liked to have seen a vulnerable exchange between her and Cecil. Hawkins had many special moments that brightened up the play and kept the audience amused. Cecil’s outburst was mesmerising and full of raw emotion.
Between the beautiful stage setting, the fine acting and Schulz’s direction to ensure there is ample movement to hold the audience’s interests, The Kingfisher was a delight to watch. Superb lighting and sound enhanced the experience further and made you feel you were right there with them. There was obvious audience appreciation throughout, cemented by the hearty applause received on conclusion.
The Kingfisher was performed at Javeenbah Theatre, Nerang, QLD
Directed by: Nathan Schulz
Sir Cecil Warburton played by Chris Hawkins
Evelyn Rivers played by Viviane Gian
Hawkins played by Graham Scott
Reviewed on 27 May 2017 by Jacquelin Melilli originally published on: WeekendNotes
Interview with director, Nathan Schultz
Jacqx: What attracted you to this script?
Nathan: Sometimes a script chooses you. In the case with The Kingfisher, it attracted me because it’s a romantic comedy and I’ve usually directed horror. I enjoy challenges and The Kingfisher is something I’ve never done before so I wanted to give it a go. I invite people to come and assist me with directing, especially those who have more experience with this particularly genre.
I was also attracted to the love triangle between the two main actors and the butler.
Jacqx: What do you see as particularly challenging in a script like The Kingfisher?
Nathan: The dialogue I think will be particularly challenging. It’s the stiff upper lip British dialogue that comes across as very pompous. The play is set in the 1970s and although I feel that the dialogue in The Kingfisher is beautiful it may tend to put the audience to sleep if not projected well, hence the challenge to keep the audience interested.
Jacqx: What vision did you have for directing this particular production?
Nathan: The Kingfisher mirrors my life in a sense so I feel that I can bring something to the production that comes from a point of understanding the characters in depth.
I want to try something different with this production by creating garden noises as ambience. It will work well with the storyline of how the two lovers met under a beech tree fifty years prior.
Jacqx: What do you look for when casting actors?
Nathan: I’m looking for someone who can bring sincerity to the role. When someone has experienced something similar, they can bring their own spin to the role.
I may have someone particularly in mind for the role but it usually boils down to whoever turns up for the audition. Turning up for an audition is the first step that shows me they really want to commit to the role and will put their all into it.