Theatre Review: The Days Are as Grass, The Depot Theatre (until 29th October)

The Days Are as Grass is a delightful series of short plays that sheds light on the lives and experiences of the older members of our community. Performed by a stellar cast, this production is sure to have you thinking deeply about your own life and making the most of the time that you have.

Through a series of short plays we are given an intimate look at what it means to age in today’s society. There is no single narrative, but the central theme is clear, and will resonate with both young people and those who see themselves clearly within the accounts of those on stage.

The stories are presented as six duologues and two monologues, each featuring different characters. Some are very funny, and others more poignant, but all do a bang-up job of reminding us that we all get older. At some point, like the characters in this play, we will find ourselves reflecting on the life we have lived and wondering whether we ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda’ done it differently.

Author, Carol Hall, best known as the playwright and lyricist who brought us the TONY Award-winning musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, has turned her hand to straight theatre for the first time. It is a successful venture, and one which easily translates to Australian audiences, albeit with some local tweaks from Producer/Director, Jane Edwina Seymour.

Where this production really excels is in its cast. This is a group of some of the stage and screen’s most experienced actors, and their professionalism and commitment to the craft really shows in their performances. All the characterisations are nuanced, realistic and relatable. The accents, too, are beautifully rendered.

While it’s hard to pick favourites, special mention goes to Kimball Knuckey, who displays his very obvious talent as a character actor, bringing us three very distinct male stories. Felicity Steel, who plays opposite Knuckey in two of the plays, is deeply engaging, drawing the audience in with her animated face and thoughtful delivery.

But the standout performer of the evening was Sandra Campbell, who expertly presents one of the two monologues, this one entitled The River Jordan Lamp. Campbell makes us laugh easily, but we also feel immense sympathy for this nameless woman, who could live in any street, in any town in Australia (or America for that matter).

Disappointingly, these fantastic performances are played out on a fairly mundane stage setting. Most of the action takes place around a two-seater, beige couch in centre stage. Other furniture is placed in the three corners of the Depot stage to give the actors something different to work with – and to give the audience more clues about the characters’ lives – but none of the vignettes really seem to work. Ultimately, all the heavy story-telling lifting is done by the actors.

This play is a prime example of why the arts are so important in helping us understand ourselves more keenly. Through the vastly different lives of those on stage we can take our own lessons; they serve as an important reminder that life really is short.

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The Days Are as Grass is playing at The Depot Theatre until 29th October. For bookings or more information, go here.

The reviewer attended opening night on Thursday 20th October.

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