Every once in a while, a production comes along that is so wholesome lay faultless, that I am left lost for words. Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam is one such play. Dealing with themes of loss and grief and the bonds of family are a dime a dozen in theatre, with most works wallowing in the sadness of a hopeless situation.
Audiences are often manipulated into feeling a wave of emotions during the play’s often drawn out journey. But playwright Steve Rogers have achieved the impossible – creating believable and tender characters who traverse a raw and heartbreaking story with grace, honesty and genuine care.
Rogers has genuine care for not just these characters but for the story and audience as well. His adaptation is quick and detailed, touching on moments is these people’s lives before moving on – softly easing the audience from joy to sadness to happiness and sorrow, masterfully reflecting the ups and downs of life back to the audience. Nothing is glossed over but rather shone through the lens of honesty – we live, we have flaws, we love, we break each other’s hearts.
Director Darren Yap keeps the pace and sets the tone for this work – these are memories, reality exists but it is fleeting not fixed. He weaves the story through a world trying to make sense of itself but never leaving the audience lost or at arms length. His choices are imaginative and whimsical, allowing the actors on stage room to play and to connect – both with each other and the audience.
The ensemble is made up of the finest actors to grace the Belvoir stage. Emma Jackson and Matthew Whittet are the parents you wished you had and the partnership that many long for. Their chemistry is real and intense, right from the first scene together, and their connection never wavers.
Valerie Bader and Mark Lee could not be more perfectly suited to their many roles. Each are varied and deep, restrained and passionate – they flawlessly demonstrate the cypher intent to their characters and smoothly carry the Pollard family from moment to moment.
Grace Truman and Liam Nunan couldn’t be a more watchable pair. With a cheeky glint in each of there eyes, they traverse the length and breath of the plays emotional rollercoaster and deliver performances that would give even the most seasoned performer a run for their money.
There is simply no other way to describe Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam other than MUST SEE theatre. A stand out in Belvoir’s very rich 2020 season and one that should see itself touring nationally in the not too distant future.
Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam
Belvoir Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Performance: Friday 14 February 2020
Season continues to 8 March 2020
Information and Bookings: www.belvoir.com.au
Bruce Gordon Theatre – Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, 32 Burelli Street, Wollongong
Season: 10 – 15 March 2020
Information and Bookings: www.merrigong.com.au
Image: Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam – photo by Brett Boardman
Review: Gavin Roach