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The Peach Season at The Little Theatre, Uni of Adelaide: Review

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events.
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From highly acclaimed Australian playwright Debra Oswald, Stories in the Darkwon, (2008 Best Play in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards children's fiction), author Useful (2015 published by Penguin), film and TV writer, Channel 10 series Offspring (2011won the NSW Premier's Literary Award). In 2005 The Peach Season won the $10,000 Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award to workshop Oswald's play. In 2014 The Peach Season won the AACTA Award for Best TV screenplay.

The Peach Season at The Little Theatre
James Watson, Zoe Muller and Susan Nelle. Photo: UATG.

Debra Oswald began writing as a teenager and in 1977 at age 17. Her first play was workshopped at the Australian National Playwrights Conference. Since completing her studies at the Australian National University and the Australian Film Television and Radio School, Oswald has earned her living as a writer for stage, film and radio and several children's novels.

It is harvest time for peaches on a sun-baked fruit block in rural NSW. The strengths of Oswald's play are her identifiable characters, believable dialogue, humour and a moving story that is fueled with adolescent love and various challenges by caring people as they struggle with the pain of letting go and their powerful need to protect the one they love, irrespective of the trouble they create or get themselves into.

The Peach Season at The Little Theatre
James Watson and Zoe Muller. Photo: UATG

Such are the painful lessons of a Celia, the mother who struggles with her young teenage daughter Zoe running away as a result of a brother and sister with suspicious backgrounds turning up for fruit picking work. Zoe is attracted to the forbidden appeal and the youthful passion of Kieran and disobeys her mother's over protective attempts to stop her from getting involved with Kieran and eventually her running away with him into the sinister criminal scene of Sydney.

The Peach Season at The Little Theatre
Emma Kerr and James Black. Photo: UATG.

The audience is guided through The Peach Season by Dorothy, (Susan Nelle) the Hungarian-born grandmother who is part-time narrator and protective counselor. Nelle connects with her audience with amusing humour and words of wisdom and moves the story along with her comments on the actions of characters and scene developments. Dorothy also shows signs of being over protective of her lawyer son, Joe (James Black) who is battling with his failing marriage. With all her life experience and wisdom Dorothy shows signs of being over protective of Joe as she struggles with not interfering and letting go.

Kieran played by James Watson is powerful and energetic as the teenager on the run from the police with a troubled past of drug taking and criminal offences. He gives a convincing performance as the confused youth. He mesmerizes the young and attractive Zoe (Zoe Muller) into a tenuous relationship. Zoe is engaging as Zoe,and gives a fine performance as the nave teenager who is led into her first love relationship, the criminal scene she is incapable of handling and her painful desire to break away from the protection of her mother.

Ellie McPhee as Sheena, Kieran's tough, but protective older half-sister offers a powerful performance as she reveals her troubled life and tough upbringing, which is further complicated by her troubled past relationships and her role as Kieran's carer. Sheena is the classic rough diamond with her mood swings, realistic tough dialogue and disquieting moments reveal her prickly character, but also she has moments when she reveals her caring nature as she drives the drama along.

The Peach Season at The Little Theatre
Susan Nelle and Ellie McPhee. Photo: UATG.

The loveable, caring and well-meaning Joe is played convincingly by James Black. Joe is a kind of father figure who initially invites Kieran and Sheena to help pick the peaches. Joe continually reveals he is incapable of saving his own frail marriage, yet he has a sense of responsibility as he sets about to rescue Zoe from the Sydney scene she is entrenched in with Kieran.

The Peach Season is certainly worth seeing, for its entertainment, praise worthy script, skilful performances and realistic characters. The creative set design by Rachel Lee and Timothy Tedmanson looks authentic and reflects the world of the packing shed and fruit block.

Under the direction of John Graham, The Peach Season is stimulating with captivating performances from the entire cast which will hold your attention as they reveal the strengths and weaknesses of their characters. It is great to see the Guild once again supporting and performing another highly acclaimed Australian play.

Some audience members may be confronted by the language which makes the characters all the more real. It is not excessive and knits in well with the humour and sincerity the performers bring to Debra Oswald's superb play.

Tickets $28 Full / $23 Concession
ONLINE (fee applies)
Tickets at the door subject to availability (cash only)
Group Bookings 10 at concession rate
After hours parking available in the University grounds
Please allow extra time for parking when there is an event at Adelaide Oval
(ticket machine in Cloisters parking area)

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Why? A play about first adolescent love, love of a parent, love between siblings. It is about caring, protecting and learning when to let go.
When: Thursday-Saturday 10-12 & 17-19 March 2016 at 7.30pm
Phone: 08 83135999
Where: Little Theatre, The Cloisters (off Victoria Drive, gate 10), University of Adelaide
Cost: $28 Full $23 Concession $23 TREv Members Group bookings of 10 at concession rate School group discounts available from 8313 5999 only.
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