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The Nightwatchman at Melville Theatre

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Exploring a family’s past and letting go
The Nightwatchman, Melville Theatre, play, performing arts, Daniel Keene, stage, memory, nostalgia, family
Andrea O'Donnell, Alan Kennedy and Garry Davies are appearing in The Nightwatchman.


Memory and nostalgia are key elements of The Nightwatchman at Melville Theatre, as three people move into a new chapter of their lives. Written by Daniel Keene and directed by Siobhán O'Gara, the play follows a brother and sister as they return to their family home to help their now-blind father move into an elderly care facility.

As they assemble for a final supper to say goodbye to their family home, memories come flooding back and the family history is re-visited with resentments simmering against current tensions in their lives. "The Nightwatchman is a melancholy, poetic work that explores universal frustrations such as loneliness, old age, letting go, marital disappointment and loss," Siobhán said.

The Nightwatchman, Melville Theatre, play, performing arts, Daniel Keene, stage, memory, nostalgia, family
The Nightwatchman features Alan Kennedy, centre, as blind father William whose children Helen (Andrea O'Donnell) and Michael (Garry Davies) are moving him into an aged care facility.

"But through the father William, there is a strong sense of resilience that underpins it all. Each character has a different relationship with the past – the play is about saying goodbye, setting yourself and others free, and moving forward."

Siobhán has a wealth of theatrical experience behind her, founding the Brisbane Irish Theatre Players in 1990, working with the Canberra Irish Community Theatre in the mid-90s. Since moving west, she has worked with the Old Mill, KADS, Playlovers and Dolphin Theatres in a variety of roles, including director, stage manager and lighting and sound operator.

The Nightwatchman, Melville Theatre, play, performing arts, Daniel Keene, stage, memory, nostalgia, family
and their father William (Alan Kennedy).


In 2007 and 2012, Siobhán received best director nominations for Necessary Targets and Parramatta Girls at the annual Finley Awards. More recently, she has directed The Mozart Faction at Melville Theatre and Kate's Story for Life on Hold Productions.

"I was drawn The Nightwatchman because it's a moving, poetic ode to the human spirit and the memories that define us," Siobhán said. "The play is as much about what we were, as it is about what we are now and will become."

The Nightwatchman, Melville Theatre, play, performing arts, Daniel Keene, stage, memory, nostalgia, family
Michael (Garry Davies, left), Helen (Andrea O'Donnell) and William (Alan Kennedy) take time out for a family photo in The Nightwatchman.


Andrea O'Donnell plays sister and daughter Helen. "She's someone torn between living her life and the dream world of her childhood," she said. "Helen longs to escape the complications of her life to return to her family home – a home that will soon no longer exist – which sends her mind into overdrive with a real yearning for the past.

"She feels the weight of responsibility to care for her father while her role as a mother also leaves her feeling, at times, the need to be alone and free from everything. Helen expresses some large emotions and it's a challenge bringing those to the surface as part of her journey during such an important time in her life. She's a sensitive character with a lot of internal angst."

The Nightwatchman, Melville Theatre, play, performing arts, Daniel Keene, stage, memory, nostalgia, family
Helen (Andrea O'Donnell, left), William (Alan Kennedy) and Michael (Garry Davies) raise a toast to the family home in The Nightwatchman.


First involved in acting before her daughter was born, Andrea performed The Tempest for Shakespeare in the Park and then studied drama in London, later appearing in various plays and films. She made a return to the stage in WA a year ago, appearing with Harbour and Roxy Lane Theatres.

"The Nightwatchman appealed because Daniel Keene is a wonderful playwright and has beautifully written the play with so much feeling," Andrea said. "I was also attracted to the show by the dedicated director Siobhán O'Gara, the stage manager and Melville Theatre. They are completely passionate and working hard on bringing this piece of writing to life."

The Nightwatchman plays at 8pm September 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 with a 2pm matinee on September 22. Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on 9330 4565 or at www.meltheco.org.au. Melville Theatre is at 393A Canning Highway (corner of Stock Road), Palmyra.


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Why? Moving on can be hard, especially when so many family memories are wrapped up in the past – this play looks deep into that nostalgia, what it means to people and how it shapes the present.
When: 8pm September 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 & 28; 2pm September 22
Phone: 9330 4565
Where: Melville Theatre, 393A Canning Highway, Palmyra
Cost: $20, $15 concession
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