Love in Idleness

by

J. M. Barrie

Cast & Crew
Louise Wildman; Matt Jones; Paul Armstrong;
Melissa Jones; Elizabeth Daniels; Diza Diaz;
Ellen Malone; Haley Sewell;
Michael Terry; Ami Goldberg;
Taylor Allen - Lighting
music designed by Simeon Barlow, Ellen Malone;
Hecate (Sue Waters, Marisa Newnes) - Design
Roz Riley - Director; Nigel Cox - Production manager.

Love In Idleness. Reviewed for TheatreWeb by Wendy Lewis

Mr Purdie asks the adorable Joanna why she is so fluid. The same can be said of this bewitching play. It is beautifully fluid, moving deliciously from one character to another, from one setting to another, from one state of mind to another.
Itís magical from the start with the whimsical flower fairy lovingly tending to her garden. The garden and all thatís in it, the nightingale, the flower lost-in-idleness, the shoes, the sprites and the forbidden forest are all there. Indeed, this play is packed so full of allusions to Shakespeare, fairy tales and everything else that at times it seems every line uttered is dripping with secret passions, destiny, the unknown and cruel fate. Not to mention unspoken sexual taboos and the good old stock characters from English pantos: the haughty lady, the less-than-honest butler and the dissolute artist. Itís all very exhausting to unravel but great fun.
Rob is wonderfully cheeky with a twinkle in the eye, all-knowing yet restless, dainty with an edge of ancient malice and mockery. This creature is a delight to watch in her flowery garb and gymnastic cavorting. Next we meet the four ladies: the sultry, unhappy Mrs Dearth who languidly portrays a world-weary woman who trusts no one and doesnít seem to like anyone either; the trim, prim and virtuous Mabel - although perhaps not as virtuous or guileless as we first think; the amusingly pompous Lady Caroline who is quite certain she is far superior to everyone else in the room and the quaintly innocent Joanna who pines for Purdie yet doesnít want to cause any trouble. Can we believe anything these women say? Their clearly fiendish thrall in interrogating Matey the Butler suggests that underneath their gentrified airs and graces, they are as wild and spiteful as the fairies.
Charming Purdie is the proper English gent with the proper English wife. Surely there is a dilemma in not wanting to say a word against his wife yet not being true to her? Is he self-deluded? Does he genuinely think he is decent and genuine? It seems so. The artist past his prime is a quiet and touching portrayal of a man trapped by his own inadequacies. He is the one who first sees the forest, and the one who finds the greatest joy once inside. We immediately think the pretty young thing he chases through the forest is his wife but no, she is his daughter, Margaret. This ambiguity of youth and lust, forbidden fruit and incest are hinted at in their standout scene in the woods. Perhaps the hints could be stronger to make the scene both more loving and more disturbing?
Matey the crooked butler morphs amusingly into a toad of a rich man and morphs back to get the funniest line of the play when he realises that the drinks tray in his hand feels somehow familiar. There are many funny lines, witty dialogue, and terrific irony such as the scene where Purdie and Joanna wonder why Mabel couldnít be more understanding about their illicit union.
Itís a romp, playful and engaging with the cast clearly enjoying themselves as they cavort through the woods. The quirky music complements the drama well with an on/off volume-controlled opera singer giving a virtuoso performance from Samson and Delilah; and the dulcet sounds of Teddy bears picnic to add a touch of ironic levity to the souls in search of their second chances.
Itís highly satisfying when the play returns to the room where it all started in a classic ĒAh ha!Ē moment when Will enters the house only to find the proud but tragic gypsy already there. Itís the same room, but different, a room that has expanded to draw the characters out of their petty lives into something much bigger. Congratulations to the cast for their energy, innuendo and confidence. And congrats to Roz for her adept direction of a many-layered and fascinating play.
Audience Review - Communication to the Manly Daily

Bravo to the little theatre in Manly
The cast of Love in Idleness makes no idle promise when they offer to present an enchanted evening. On opening night, last Saturday, the Star of the Sea Theatre sparkled with the whimsy you'd expect from playwright, J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan.
The Play is inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream. Rob (Puck) entices her guests into a mysterious wood where they see what might have been had they made different life choices.
Aristocratic Caroline (Titania) romps on the forest floor with asinine Matey. Agile, impish Puck looks fantastic for someone who is 500 years old and, as they've always done, humans stumble about seeking truth amongst the trees.
Bravo to the Factory Space Theatre Company! It's great to see theatre flourishing in he entertainment scene of Manly. Helen Lyne
Freshwater

and from Ros Bilbe (actor)
Where did you find Louise Wildman? An amazing performance! Re-reading the review was so rewarding as it confirmed all my feelings.
BRAVO Factory Space! It's your inventive and wondrous on the eye staging that I love.
Your three men were superb too - hard to find!
Thanks for letting me know as it's rare to find a play that stimulates these days...

Love in Idleness   photographed by John Reeves and Josh Beasley