Evening Performances start at 8:00pm
Sunday Matinees start at 2:00pm
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“GORDON BOOTH (Deceased)” A NEW PLAY by Peter Flanigan
The current season at the Stirling Theatre is Gordon Booth (Deceased), a new play written and directed by Peter Flanigan, and another World Premiere.
Gordon Booth (Deceased) is set in Trigg, Western AustraIia, and deals with a good many of the often sticky questions prompted when a person shuffles off this mortal coil (as another playwright put it). The action of the play takes place in the living room of the home of Gordon and Elsie Booth (both deceased), and is introduced by the handyman Hughie O’Shea, who we gradually learn is also no longer among those present. This is not unduly confusing, as they are readily distinguishable from the group of family and ‘mourners’ who as the play opens are already three sheets in the wind and party-ready, and have to be swept Out-the-door by Gordon’s two daughters and one son, who have a Will to discuss.
And Gordon’s Will bears some discussion, as it introduces one—or is it more than one?—irruption which needs solving before the spondulix can be split. Add to this Gordon’s latest Carer Angela, delightfully played by Elizabeth Jansen, who is suspiciously in possession of the keys to the house, but otherwise appears uninvolved—as yet………
The action is played-out in thirteen scenes, the mechanics of whose set-changes, though minimal, seemed to prompt some restiveness in the largely retirement-age audience; but the responses of some of its members throughout the action, and the very palpable threat of tears toward the end, witnessed to the nostalgically emotional appeal of this play.
Gordon Booth (Deceased) is unlike any other of Peter Flanigan’s plays. It lacks some of the dynamic flow of There’s a War On, You Know and The Rocks, possibly because as Peter says, it was prompted by his own very private memories of the funeral of his step-grandfather, and the emergence of ‘things about Grandpa which (he) didn’t know, and had never been talked about, at least in (his) presence’. A further complication in this production may have been that Peter was suddenly taken seriously ill as the play was about to graduate from the book to the boards. A cast of varying experience (and ditto talent at the moment, but don’t we all) coped well, and profited from the agile brilliance of Peter’s dialogue throughout the play.
Particular mention should be made of the convincing performances of Bob Charteris (G.B. Himself), Beth Snowdon (the dual role of Elsie B. and Jocelyn Benton), Fran Gordon (Anne, Gordon’s elder daughter) and Ian Watson (Hughie—see above), who despite an occasional tendency to overbear other characters onstage, drew-in the audience with his caustic comments and provided a good deal of amusement during his appearances.
Gordon Booth (Deceased) has much to give a thinking audience, with its witty dialogue, its well-developed characters and a forceful cast which manages to create a wry climate of gentle reminiscence and a climax of deep emotional involvement, resulting in the overall feeling of an evening well-spent at Stirling Theatre.
Peter is a Life Member of Stirling Players, and has written many plays, musicals and revues. His book Seven One-Act Plays is well known in Perth.
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