Dangerous Corner (The Genesian Theatre)

Dangerous Corner 1Venue: The Genesian Theatre (Sydney NSW), Jul 5 – Aug 10, 2013
Playwright: J.B. Priestley
Director: Peter Lavelle
Actors: Elizabeth MacGregor, Elinor Portch, Amy Fisher, Tom Massey, John Grinston, John Willis-Richards
Image credit: Craig O’Regan

Theatre review
Dangerous Corner was first staged in the early 30s, and this production is faithful to that era in every way possible. Every effort is made to provide a glimpse into early twentieth century England, without any distractions in gratuitous attempts at bringing the show “up to date”. The undeniable charm of the period is experienced through costume design, acting style and of course, The Genesian Theatre itself with its wondrous vintage space. Modern theatre cultures in the last thirty years, have been intently concerned with the dismantling of live performance traditions, but in director Peter Lavelle’s vision, the proscenium arch and all that it represents is revived, honoured and adored.

Hair design is beautiful and highly accomplished. Minute details and secondary elements in a production like this play a big part in winning over its audience. Set design is effective but somewhat minimal. There are no changes and movements to the stage set pieces, so one can imagine that further ornamentation could have been introduced fairly easily to enhance the sense of luxury and wealth of the characters.

Elizabeth MacGregor plays Olwen Peel with a quiet confidence. She takes command of the stage with her effortless and exquisite physicality, gesturing and gliding from one position to another with careful and genuine intent. Her lines are delivered with superb clarity, and this is true for the entire cast who are a real treat in regard to their use of voice. Elinor Portch plays the supporting role of Freda Caplan delightfully, performing with precision even when in the background, always listening and reacting appropriately, thereby heightening the effects of her co-players’ words.

The play ends spectacularly. A surprising epilogue is presented and the audience is mesmerised. Without giving too much away, it is a great few minutes of theatre that is at once fascinating and thrilling, letting one leave the theatre with a feeling that is quite thoroughly modern.