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My Brilliant Career - Garrick Theatre

Reviewed by Jordan D'Arcy

 

My Brilliant Career is based on the classic Australian novel by Miles Franklin, adapted by Christine Davey. The story within the novel was perceived to be so close to Miles’ actual life and family that she withdrew it from publication, resulting in it only being published after her death.


My Brilliant Career is Jane Sherwood’s first directorial venture at Garrick Theatre and is also a TAG (Teens at Garrick) production. This production required all actors on stage at (nearly) all times, which was mostly handled very well by the whole cast, under Jane’s directorial eye. There were a few instances where a line or two were very difficult to hear due to the speaking actor being blocked by another actor but the logistics of having 14 actors on stage at once in the small space the Garrick stage provides would have been a headache to organise.


The simple set was effective – minimal moveable set pieces or props - but the painted clouds and wheatfield immediately transported you to rural New South Wales from the moment the curtains lifted. The costumes also effectively kept the audience in the late 1890s, with simple but obvious changes to differentiate characters. There was a rogue claw clip spotted, but otherwise, very era-appropriate. The clever juxtaposition of Sybylla and Miles Franklin’s costumes did not go unnoticed. The lighting state with the spotlight on the sender for some of the letters being read aloud was quaint and endearing. It would have been nice to have every letter have the same lighting state for clarity.


Rae Bacon anchored the production elegantly in the role of Sybylla, with a wonderful consistency that brought a lot of reality to the script. Travis Wild-Smith’s Harry Beecham was equally grounding and charming to watch. A particular stand out was Mathilda Theodorsen primarily as Gertie, Sybylla’s younger sister, morphing seamlessly from character to character.


Although a smaller detail, it would have been helpful to have a programme that included a bio or photograph for all the cast members that listed the characters each cast member played. Some faces were not familiar to this reviewer, and it would have been nice to be able to refer to the program during the intermission and after the show, as well as in the writing of this review, especially as each actor played several characters.


It is lovely to see the growth that the TAG actors have had since their last production. This show is very different to anything TAG has previously done, and it was wonderful to see that these actors can tackle a totally different genre from anything they’ve done before.


Travis Wildsmith (Harry Beecham) and Rae Bacon (Sybylla Melvyn). Image credit: Jeremy Moore.

Reviewer note: Jordan has previously directed and performed at Garrick Theatre. Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.

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