And No More Shall We Part

And No More Shall We Part
By Tom Holloway. Tasmanian Theatre Company. Theatre Royal Backspace, Hobart. Director: Sue Benner. July 25 – August 4, 2013

Tasmanian Theatre Company’s production And No More Shall We Part is a poignant story of living, loving and leaving, played with searing honesty by Joan Murray and Guy Hooper. Pam and Don have had a long and successful marriage. Now, Pam is dying, and the couple have to deal with her departure and her choices. Dying with dignity and euthanasia are topics for discussion, and, eventually, legislation. The import of the subject is made all the more moving because of the ordinary language of the writing, and the lack of pretension and absence of melodrama of the production. It was a privilege to witness this story of everyday people facing and dealing with an awful problem.

Murray and Hooper were superb. Who will be brave for whom, in such a situation? No one ever knows, until we live it. At times, I felt as if I was a voyeur, peeking in on a couple’s intimate moments; at other times I felt as if I belonged to their family and ached for them as I would for my own family members. The entire audience felt the pain and dilemma: so many people are living through similar situations.

Award-winning Tasmanian writer Tom Holloway has the insight to create characters we feel we know. The dialogue is very natural. Use of repetition was effective, although sometimes it felt to me that it was being overused, which is probably normal for people who were in shock and crisis.

This must have been an exhausting and emotionally draining play to perform. As an audience member, I was soengrossed that I felt I hadn’t breathed for the 85 minute duration of the play, although I did cry.

Well done to director Sue Benner, who brought her personal insights and considerable theatrical experience into the play. The set, a collection of rooms, was dressed simply but realistically, and effective lighting by Max Ford added to the feelings of sadness lurking inside the family home. This is a powerful production. I feel I would have been a poorer person if I hadn’t seen it. Highly recommended!

Merlene Abbott

Images: Guy Hooper & Joan Murray; photographer, Richard Parkinson.

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