Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Oct 22 – Nov 16, 2013
Playwright: Robert Allan
Director: Julie Baz
Actors: Cherilyn Price, Alexander Butt, Mel Dodge, Jai Higgs, David Jeffrey, Carla Nirella
Image by Katy Green Loughrey
At the heart of An Ordinary Person is an unusual relationship. It is an unconventional marriage not often represented on stage, but it is an entirely believable one. Robert Allan has written an interesting story, and he has crafted characters that are idiosyncratic, curious and memorable. The structure of the plot, however, is a challenging one. The show’s first half is full of intrigue, but not much else. It takes its time introducing the various characters in an air of mystery, but the audience needs a stronger sense of the impending drama for these characters to be compelling. Fortunately, the second half is much more satisfying, with drama bursting at all its seams.
Performing the piece is an ensemble of uniformly strong actors. Cherilyn Price is particularly impressive, playing her character Aggie at two different ages. She switches effectively between the portrayal of a middle-aged woman and her 14 year-old version, without the use of costumes or makeup, relying only on her acting. It is quite an experience to see Price’s method in her subtle but distinct transformations. Carla Nirella plays Fiona, and stands out with the effortless intensity and conviction she brings to the production. Her role is a simple one, but she attacks it with clarity and energy, giving very solid support to the key characters.
The play’s themes are dark and uncommon but Julie Baz’s direction does not exploit them gratuitously. She is careful to depict all characters with compassion, so that we leave the show thinking about our society’s issues in a mirror that reflects the social, rather than the personal. Although fundamentally a singular species, ordinary persons bear infinite differences between each and every separate entity. It is in the meeting of these individuals that extraordinary things happen, good or bad.