A Single Man ★★★★ Park Theatre | Oct 19 - Nov 26, 2022

Christopher Isherwood's meditation on life and loss is not a particularly dramatic novel. The film adaptation is memorable for its evocative creation of mood through an inventive visual syntax. The chronicling of an ordinary day in the life of a man who has lost his partner and who must now go on with what seems the banality of his life is created through images that become haunting. A picture is painted that starkly contrasts George's grey perception of himself and his single life with the garish reality of his Californian environment. This type of translation from the novel is simply not possible in a theatre where space is limited and where the spoken word is the primary medium. Nevertheless, this current adaptation works well and brings a different flavour to Isherwood's poignant piece. Theo Fraser Steele is excellent as button-down George, but his displays of emotion seem rather awkward. He brings a dry wit to the role and is totally convincing as a fish out of water in the Californian sun. Olivia Darnley is quite delightful as George's needy ex-pat friend, who like him is trying to adjust to new circumstances, but whose solution might be a retreat to the past. Miles Molan as George's flirtatious student, Kenny, does a fine job of teasing the audience with a facile non-solution to his professor's pain. He is not George's future and from the beginning George realises that living in and coping with the now is his challenge, neither retreat to the past nor fantasies of the future are solutions. Philip Wilson's direction works well, except for a decision not to use the centre stage at some points which created some awkward sight lines for parts of the audience. Caitlin Abbott has designed a cleverly versatile set which wisely eschews verisimilitude. A Single Man on stage definitely offers a fresh look at Isherwood's touching and troubling reflection on mourning and meaning.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mitzi de Margary.

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