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Bakehouse play adds to euthanasia debate


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Bakehouse Theatre’s latest offering, Tasmanian writer Tom Holloway’s And No More Shall We Part, features Adelaide stage veterans Peter Green and Jacqy Phillips; they are skilled performers and this production is an appropriate vehicle for them both.

Phillips plays Pam, a woman with a debilitating terminal illness who has come to terms with the fact that she is to receive no more treatment.  Green is the loving husband who does not want to lose her and worries how he will cope without her. The pair, who have spent a good portion of their lives together, confront the complications of euthanasia and hence Holloway’s play is topical and thought-provoking.

There are some memorable moments between the two as they reminisce and share intimacies and trivia in a final night together. This play begs the question: what you talk about with a loved one in their final moments? It is especially difficult if the one doing the talking has lost some memories and it is virtually impossible to relive highlights of life or re-enact special times.

Manda Webber’s set makes good use of the small stage with a single sick-bed and armchair delineating Pam’s room and a scrim window that looks out at a softly lit tree which has symbolically shed its autumn leaves, tastefully sprinkled along the floor.  Green and Phillips establish a sensitive and loving relationship between the couple and their affections for each other are movingly portrayed.

Flashbacks between them, revealing feisty conflicts and euthanasia not being an easy path, are done as video on a large screen. Because the flashbacks are rather lengthy sequences, it sometimes felt as if I was in the cinema rather than the theatre. As interesting as the scenes were, we may have experienced a more powerful theatrical event if they had been staged live.

Director Yasmin Gurreeboo has the two professionals working successfully, both live and on film, but Holloway’s script needs some greater conflict, surprises or revelations; in its present form, the story rolls on steadily towards its inevitable conclusion.

Adelaide needs venues such as the Bakehouse Theatre to continue to provide alternative theatre for intimate audiences, especially when they are promoting new Australian plays. And No More Shall We Part is a play that contributes significantly to the debate about euthanasia; it is not judgmental, nor is it simplistic in its treatment of a difficult topic.

And No More Shall We Part is playing at Bakehouse Theatre until June 29.


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