Dreamer, wordsmith, mum of two - I enjoy the outdoors, good food and good company. Subscribe to my articles to follow what I've been up to, and like those articles you want to see more of so I can tailor what I write to my audience.
A refreshing and uplifting tale that is the perfect antidote to counter the malaise of these troubled and challenging times, Lane Cove Theatre Company's version of Violet was both charming and energetic, and a worthy kick-off to re-enter the in-person stage performance space after the disruption caused by COVID lockdowns.
The story starts with a girl about to embark on a long bus ride to visit a faith healer she believes can heal her disfigured face, which was scarred when she was hit in the face by an axe as a young teenager.
Along the way, she encounters a couple of army officers who may be off to fight in Vietnam, and the long bus trip is a wonderful vehicle to get to know this unlikely trio whose interactions with each other help them understand themselves and each other far better by the end.
Chelsea Taylor who played Violet, was beautifully cast as the damaged and naive but defiant Violet, completely consumed by the quest to replace her disfigured face with beautiful features. Chelsea has a lovely, soft voice that floats through the music effortlessly in a way that mirrors Violet's innocent fervent belief that God can fix her disfigured face to heal her life.
They chose not to use any makeup to portray Violet's disfigured face in this production, rather leaving it up to the audience's imagination and showing it through the reaction of other characters to seeing her. While this was initially a bit disconcerting, it was a clever move as it allowed the issue of image and disfigurement and how people react to this to be raised and examined without distracting the audience with an actual physical portrayal of the disfigurement itself.
Monty and Flick, the two soldiers, were well portrayed by Tommy Green and Lindford Gilmour, managing to convey both as likeable lads, one with the over the top swagger and bravado, with the other more restrained and open and honest, but burdened by the racism inherent in those times.
While there were a couple of moments where the vocal pitch went slightly off-key, the energy and passion they brought to their portrayals was unquestionable, which heightened the raw emotion exuded in the portrayal of their characters.
Trent Gardiner, who played Violet's father, was utterly believable as the heartbroken dad trying to do his best and managed to convey a world of emotion in a few sentences, a look, and a touch.
Young Violet, played by Taylor Swan, turned in a convincing performance, and is surely someone to watch out for in the future.
Overall, the enthusiasm and dedication shown by the whole cast in producing a beautiful show was impressive. Of particular note was the commitment of all the cast members in portraying the background characters' roles in a fully immersed way. Often there would be the main scene happening in the foreground but, for example, the other bus passengers and bus driver just in the background doing their own thing.
Having to hold your hands out in front of you as you mime steering a bus for several minutes in the background while the audience's attention is focussed elsewhere is commendable - kudos!
All in all, Violet was a wonderful production, with unexpected twists and turns, that touched on several interesting social issues while still managing to weave in plenty of humour and charm, all tied together with robust gospel performances and soulful music.
The director, Kathryn Thomas, should be proud of the quality of this production that she's created in such a short period of time.
Violet is on at St Aidan's performance space in Longueville with performances from Fri - Sunday until 29 May 2022. If you want a fun night out but with some emotional depth and thoughtfulness thrown in for good measure, Violet is your musical.