The Greening of Grace

The Greening of Grace
By William Zappa. Wildie Creative. Theatre 19 (formerly The Darlinghurst Theatre). Nov 16 – Dec 9, 2012

After performing his own solo play, Winter’s Discontent, about an actor preparing, actor William Zappa picks up his keyboard again to put a grandmother centre stage.  Grace is a knitting, cardy-clad granny who is fondly eye-rolling about her class warrior husband, an angry Labor man, and his battles with their only child, Jane; she’s found new life and new marriage with a banker and the brittle certainties of Christian capitalism. Zappa instantly engages us in Grace and Derrick’s modest home life with his fine ear for truthful characters and realistic, yet poetic, dialogue.  

Zappa defies the truism that writers shouldn’t direct their own plays by doing just that (and designing!) and he does a good job. Grace is artfully steered through time shifts before and after Derrick’s death, Jane’s awkward visits – and an horrific home invasion which, rather inexplicably, prompts Grace into environmental activism.  Only occasionally is Grace left stranded delivering too much exposition.

Zappa is lucky to have a perfect performance from veteran Maggie Blinco as Grace.  And a strong supporting cast in Don Reid as the grumpy Derrick, Wendy Strehlow as Jane and, especially, Nigel Turner Carroll in the well-drawn character of Tim, the affectionate grandson who introduces Grace to green politics.

Here though Zappa wears his environmental heart too prominently and Grace’s evolution into green granny is not ultimately convincing.  Although nicely suggested in the design, the environmental threats of the outside world do not crash through into Zappa’s beautifully rendered domesticity of Grace.  She and the family however are certainly worth meeting.

Martin Portus

Subscribe to our E-Newsletter, buy our latest print edition or find a Performing Arts book at Book Nook.