‘Wish’ is a play with adult themes, adapted by the versatile Humphrey Bower from the novel by Yorke Peninsula born Peter Goldsworthy. This enchanting, World Premiere is produced by the Blue Room in conjunction with the award winning Chamber Theatre Company Night Train. ‘Wish’ is being performed on the main stage at The Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge until Saturday 16th April, all shows at 7.00 pm.
Approaching middle age, John James (Humphrey Bower) or JJ as he is known, is the hearing son of deaf parents and signing is his first language, diction came much later. He has a part-time job teaching sign language at night classes, when one evening a domineering, toffee-nosed couple, Clive and Stella, arrive at the class and ask JJ to teach their daughter Eliza (Danielle Micich) to sign and even speak. They suspect that Eliza can talk but as yet haven’t heard her say a word, she only ‘signs’.
At first JJ refuses, but faced with their overbearing attitude he relents and goes to their estate in the country. He starts to teach Eliza, who is unloved and poorly treated by her parents, so inevitably the boundary between teacher and pupil becomes stretched.
How often have you see a film advertised with a tremendous cast and crew, only to find it a dud. So faced with the following credentials I was expecting a great deal, but prepared for disappointment.
The author was a GP, who worked in alcohol and drug rehabilitation. His novels have sold over four hundred thousand copies and his poetry has appeared in UWA’s ‘Westerly’. Goldsworthy has also won an amazing collection of awards over the past 30 years.
Humphrey Bower, who has an ‘honours’ in English Language and Literature from Oxford, is celebrated for his perceptive and gifted book readings, and wonderful radio short stories. Last year Humphrey was nominated for a WA Equity Award for his adaptation of ‘Grace’. He has won Helpmann, Green Room and prestigious Audie Awards for his performances.
WA Dancer and choreographer Danielle Micich started life with Buzz Dance, since then she has travelled to the USA, Singapore, and New Delhi. She was the Artistic Director of West Australia's Youth Dance Company STEPS for four years, and a 2007 finalist for the West Australian Dance Awards.
Certainly a brilliant set of reputations to live up to. Far from being disappointed, I consider this to be the best Blue Room show for a couple of years. Even at twice the normal length (two and a quarter hours) it was riveting. The audience sat in total silence as they adsorbed the magnificent unfolding of the tale by Humphrey. His talent for accents and intonation mesmerised us as we appreciated every paragraph of this masterly and audacious saga.
When there is a ‘signer’ accompanying some important public announcement, I am sure that you – like myself - find yourself captivated. Well for much of this story, Bower’s hands worked flawlessly in time with his speech. The audience sat in awe, wondering if this was a lifetime skill or learnt specially for the performance? Bower, whose perfect pace and diction never faltered once, has the uncanny knack of appearing to be telling the tale to everyone in the audience individually. This made you become implicated and sympathetic to the emotions involved.
Danielle had the difficult task of playing the daughter, who had a strange ‘disability’. This must have called for a great deal of study and research, but her body movements were remarkable. She too had the signing conquered.
Simple but effective live guitar music by Leon Ewing. The very well designed lighting by Andrew Lake was operated by Alice Hatton. There were poignant moments when long fades were called for and Alice got these just right.
Everyone left the theatre totally blown away. I can guarantee that you will never have seen a show like this, and you will be truly upset if you miss it.