The Ruby Sunrise by Rinni Groff

The Ruby Sunrise by Rinni Groff
Ensemble Theatre, Sydney

Sandra Bates, the Ensemble Theatre's long standing Artistic Director, joined her cast on stage at the end of the opening night performance of young American playwright Rinni Groff's The Ruby Sunrise. It was then that she received a large bouquet of flowers from star actress, Amanda Muggleton. The occasion was that the production of The Ruby Sunrise represented the one hundredth Ensemble production in which Sandra Bates has been involved.
In 1986 Bates took over the baton of Artistic Director of the Ensemble theatre from its founding father, the internationally renowned Hayes Gordon, who formed the Company over fifty years ago, back in 1958. In his time Gordon developed the Ensemble theatre into one of Sydney's leading theatre companies, and Bates has maintained his high standards.
In a way it's a shame that Bates didn't choose a more substantial play than The Ruby Sunrise for her hundredth. Groff's play is a good yarn but it's not a world-beater. Her play tells the story of Ruby, a poor, ambitious self educated farm girl from an abusive family who creates the first working photo-cathube tube, and sets out with the goal to create the world's first working television. Her story goes unnoticed for over twenty years until her daughter Lulu, working as a script editor, manages to convince television writer Tad Rose to write a television play about her mother's life.
Ensemble Studio graduate Matilda Ridgeway played Ruby, impressing in her professional debut. Jonathon Prescott played her boyfriend who couldn't get his head around the fact that Ruby was more interested in her inventions than in her relationship with him. Amanda Muggleton shone in the dual roles of Ruby's gruff Aunt Lois and television actress, Ethel.
Catherine McGraffin played the very determined Lulu. Glenn Hazeldine played talented television writer Tad Rose who was a bit taken with Lulu, and Paul Gleeson played his no-nonsense television producer, Martin Marcus. Hollie Andrew was a highlight in a largely comic role as sex bomb acrtress, Suzie Tyrone.
The Ruby Sunrise featured a very impressive, elaborate, two tiered set designed by NIDA design graduate, Clare Maloney.
David Kary

Jonathon Prescott, Hollie Andrew, Paul Gleeson and Amanda Muggleton in The Ruby Sunrise. Photograph by Steve Lunam

 

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