As we arrived at The Ensemble Theatre last night, I was blown away by the view. It’s not the first time I’ve been there – quite the opposite, I’ve been there many times – but it’s the first time I’ve been there early enough to enjoy the daylight view. Although I snapped this photograph through the full-length window using my camera phone, which explains the mystic blue quality, it’s still quite a beautiful view, don’t you think? And quite fitting too, as it’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen at The Ensemble. Smart, intelligent, warm, and reasonably challenging.
The Busy World Is Hushed is set in the United States, focussing on the life of a 50 year old (or thereabouts) female Episcopalian MInister (Anglican) and her son. They only have each other, as the father died weeks before the son’s birth. Neither has ever really gotten over it, with both searching for some meaning. Both are also searching for an explanation about the father’s death: did he drown or did he commit suicide? As a result of their individual searches for meaning, they both love each other desperately, though they’re unable to communicate that love. The mother buries herself in her work; the son “goes missing” for great swathes of his life.
The employment of a “ghost writer” for a book on theology brings a third person into the relationship, a young man who develops a relationship with the son, with the mother’s “permission”. But even that’s misunderstood and badly communicated. And at that point I won’t go any further into plot development, as it would take away some of the surprises if you’re planning to attend.
And I suggest you do. It’s a pretty good play, though I thought the second act lacked some of the intellectualism of the first. On top of that the acting and direction are excellent. All of the actors are genuinely convincing in their roles, and there wasn’t a single occasion when I didn’t believe them. They’ve obviously been well directed.
Obviously it’s not a play for everyone. At half-term, I heard a bloke apologise to his wife/girlfriend… “I didn’t know it was a religious play. And I didn’t know it was a gay play”. Amongst those in the audience there was a significantly large contingent of younger gay men. But I also spotted a prominent journalist and his wife, who are well known Christians. So if you have an interest in both theology and sexuality, it’s probably the ideal play for you, as it deals genuinely and honestly with some complex issues. It’s very “Uniting Church” if you know what I mean.
Aside from that, life remains pretty good. I went shopping on Thursday night for my Swedish language text book (ahead of starting lessons on Tuesday). I also bought a couple of DVDs including Shortbus which The Other Andrew has written enthusiastically about and Angels In America which I enjoyed immensely when it screened on ABC-TV. These DVDs might just be the solution to the continued wet weather in Sydney. I have a fair bit planned, though, with some Chinese NY activities today, the Mardi Gras launch, and then dinner and drinks with my mate Michaela, who, in further blatant advertising I wish to remind you has a terrific new show on SBS this Wednesday night.