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Under The Blue Sky at Melville Theatre

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Sky’s the limit with actors' no-holds-barred performances
Under The Blue Sky, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, David Eldridge, drama, humour
Joy Northover and Garry Davies are appearing in Under The Blue Sky at Melville Theatre.

Move out of your comfort zone – a character-driven drama studying unrequited affection, obsession, sex and being happy comes to Melville Theatre this July. Written by David Eldridge and directed by Susan Lynch, Under The Blue Sky is described as "modern, thoughtful theatre" and boldly follows the relationships, loves and lust of three couples.

All of them are teachers and have been friends for a long time… but all have been hiding truths from each other. The play is set on one significant day when they decide to tell each other their innermost thoughts. Originally written in 2000, the play was revived in 2008 in the West End featuring Doctor Who's Catherine Tate and The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd.

"If you love something that takes you out of the old-style drawing room dramas and comedies, then you will love Under The Blue Sky," Susan said. "There is a lot of humour in the play, as well as some genuinely confronting moments. We get to see the best of some of the characters and the worst of others.

"At one level, it's about their relationships suddenly changing but it also looks at how we continue living our lives in the face of all the horrors in the world. Although you can see our personal struggles as small and insignificant, we also have a drama of our own that makes our lives something timeless."

The main challenge, according to Susan, is getting the actors to step outside their comfort zones to deliver the intensity needed for their roles. "In rehearsal, we've been going from laughter to tears and back," she said. "Sometimes I enjoy the rehearsals so much I don't want them to stop!

Under The Blue Sky, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, David Eldridge, drama, humour
Under The Blue Sky director Susan Lynch with actors Georgina Kling and Sean Bullock.

What I want to do is get the balance right between challenging the audience and letting them enjoy themselves. In the end, we don't want to beat people over the head – we want them to come away feeling they've had a great night and I think this play will do that."

Acting and directing in Perth for the past 18 years, Susan has staged a plethora of productions with the Old Mill, Harbour, KADS and Melville Theatres and the Graduate Dramatic Society and has more recently appeared in Relative Values, Necessary Targets, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Parramatta Girls and Love, Loss and What I Wore.

In 2002, her production of Out of Order was runner-up best play at the annual Finley Awards and she received a best director nomination for The Shape of Things in 2009. Susan was also recognised for encouraging new talent in Daisy Pulls It Off at the 2011 awards.

"I have been drawn to Under The Blue Sky for a few years but had too many other things going on – yet every time I read it, I was excited about the chance to get some really good performances happening," she said. "It features good roles for actors and that makes it fun to direct as well.

"The play has some sexual elements and language that can be confronting but Melville Theatre has developed a reputation for doing modern and exciting theatre and was happy to let me try this play in Perth. I can't wait to see the audience reactions. This is very much the sort of play that will cause arguments in the bar and long conversations in the car going home."

Under The Blue Sky, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, David Eldridge, drama, humour
Helen (Georgina Kling) and Nick (Sean Bullock) cook up a storm in the kitchen in Under The Blue Sky.

Sean Bullock plays Nick, a narcissistic womaniser. "He is self-absorbed and just wants to get on with his life rather than deal with the insecurities of his friend Helen," he said. "Nick has feelings for Helen but would prefer that she give him his space and be less needy.

"It would be very easy to play Nick as a one-dimensional man so the challenge will be to show his many facets. Like most things in life, his personality is not black or white but rather a variety of shade of grey.

"Under The Blue Sky appealed because I had previously acted with director Susan Lynch and enjoyed the experience. After hearing she was directing this play and then reading the script, I found the complexity and interwoven narrative would make for a really enjoyable experience."

Under The Blue Sky plays at 8pm July 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23 with a 2pm matinee July 17. Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on 9330 4565 or at www.meltheco.org.au Please note: this production contains strong language and adult themes.

Melville Theatre is on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.

Under The Blue Sky, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, David Eldridge, drama, humour
Under The Blue Sky features Petrina Harley as Michelle and Zac Bennett-McPhee as Graham.
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Why? This is character drama at its best with six actors giving their absolute all.
When: 8pm July 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 & 23; 2pm July 17
Phone: 9330 4565
Where: Melville Theatre, corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra
Cost: $20, $15 concession
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