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BWW REVIEW: Ensemble Theatre's New Staging Of Joanna Murray-Smith's HONOUR Reinforces That The Issues Examined 25 Years Ago Remain

HONOUR

BWW REVIEW: Ensemble Theatre's New Staging Of Joanna Murray-Smith's HONOUR Reinforces That The Issues Examined 25 Years Ago Remain

Friday 30th April 2021, 8:15pm, Ensemble Theatre

Director Kate Champion presents a crisp expression of HONOUR, Joanna Murray-Smith's study of the breakdown of a relationship based on the seductive nature of a power and influence imbalance. Looking at the high-profile splits that make it to the media, it would indicate that Murray-Smith's observations remain as relevant in the 21st century as they did when the work premiered in 1995.

The Honour (Lucy Bell) of the title is the 60-something housewife who sacrificed her ambitions to be a poet in favor of supporting her husband George (Huw Higginson), a successful journalist, and raising their daughter Sophie (Poppy Lynch). Despite Honour and George criticizing their friend for abandoning his marriage for a younger woman Honour is now faced with George abandoning their marriage for Claudia (Ayeesha Ash), the bright young graduate sent to interview him for his new book who has managed to seduce him into believing that her admiration for his work and the prospect of a fresh new physical relationship is love when in reality it is a power play and lust, both of which will turn stale with time.

Given the work is dialogue driven Set and Costume Designer Simone Romaniuk has created a sleek representation of a modern living space with a tall bookcase partly obscured by a semi-opaque wall and minimalist high table, bench and stool. Costuming remains casual with changes to reflect the transition of time while giving a subtle insight into the characters, particularly the difference between Claudia and Sophie who while only about 5 years different in age have wildly different outlooks in life as Claudia has a go-getting independence and knowledge of what she wants from the world, unafraid to do whatever it takes to achieve it while the 24 year old Sophie, whilst exhibiting elements of wisdom, still has a naivety and need for nurturing care from her parents

The work, centering on a collection of writers at various stages in their careers, either put on hold, successful maturity or rising ambition, is based on the various pairings of conversations but on the night reviewed the presentation seemed to lack the requisite energy and passion to really sympathize and engage with any character particularly given the work doesn't really unearth anything significantly new. While HONOUR remains as a cautionary tale for the dangers of sacrificing one's ambition in favor of a partner's career or the idea that a woman should be home looking after the children the progress of time seems to have given people, particularly women, a better sense of the consequences of the decisions they are making.

https://www.ensemble.com.au/shows/honour/


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