Connor Oscar Clarke's Daddy Long Legs is Absolutely Charming
Based on Jean Webster's 1912 novel of the same name, Daddy Long Legs is a postal affair that tells the story of orphan Jerusha Abbott and her mysterious benefactor, who she dubs 'Daddy Long Legs' after seeing his elongated shadow and whom she sends a letter once a month about her new-found experiences.
Ella Macrokanis plays Jerusha Abbott and wonderfully conveys her good-heartedness as we watch her transformation from a sheltered, naïve orphan into an independent, educated woman. We watch her fall in love with Shaun Kohlman as Daddy Long Legs/Jervis Pendelton, who Kohlman portrays with such kindness, compassion and generosity, but also fragility which is what makes his character unique. Thanks to playwright Paul Gordon, the three-dimensional nature of the characters allows the audience to share and invest in their own journey. We feel their hope, anguish, heartache, and the kaleidoscope of emotions in between. I loved watching the little moments created between the actors on stage; such as the slight smirk or twitch of a smile when Jervis is reading his new letters, showing how deeply rooted the actors were with their characters.
Connor Oscar Clarke's voice as a director shines through by his innovative transformation of mundane artefacts. The stage is split into a Jervis's world of books and a Jerusha's world of suitcases, which start off empty but at the end of the piece, are almost full. In each scene, Jerusha arranged and interacted with the suitcases in a particular way to show time passing and changes in Jerusha's world. The posed as hills, desks, beds, chairs but also as treasure shoves in which Jerusha placed and found new memories. Movement director George Canham aided Clarke in creating such playful moments within these spaces, transporting us from one to the next. One of the most beautiful moments in the show was when the two worlds combined; when Jerusha stepped into Jervis's study of bookshelves and letters and when Jervis found himself in Jerusha's world of memories. It was exquisite to watch and to follow.
The epistolary framework of the show was devine and it was nice to return to a world without facebook and snapchat, in which letter-writing was the norm. Maddi Goodridge and Frances Foo's costumes were period perfect, Fiona Black's lighting design complemented the characters' worlds perfectly and the band was fantastic.
This production is will weave you into Daddy Long Legs' web with its charm. This work has set the bar high as the debut work of Passion Productions and I cannot wait to see what work the company tackles next.
Rating: 5 Stars
Daddy Long Legs | Directed by Connor Oscar Clarke
Presented by Passion Productions at the Visy Theatre