Myrtle Gordon can’t quite seem to make it work – the scenes feel false and the lines won’t stick. Nothing is clicking and she doesn’t know why. Wrestling with her own demons, Myrtle is subjected to bitter humiliation by those around her and forced to endure a world that is rapidly silencing her. And throughout it all, a young girl seems to be stalking in the shadows.
Adapted from John Cassavetes’ original screenplay, Opening Night is a thrilling tour de force – a spine tingling journey that effortlessly bounces between what we know and what is imagined.
Licciardello’s adaptation and direction skillfully avoids all cliche troupes, rather narrowing the focus squarely onto Myrtle and her state of mind. The work evolves into a character study, with audiences following Myrtle as she navigates the every eroding reality around her.
Leeanna Walsman is utterly flawless as Myrtle Gordon. Almost never leaving the stage, Walsman traverses through the narrative with a fordidable stage presence and vulnerable grace that allows all of Myrtle’s many facets to bubble to the surface.
Luke Mullins delivers yet another brilliant performance as Manny, arguably the work’s villain. His acid tongue and biting put downs constantly chip away at Myrtle’s grip on reality, with Mullins leaning in and giving a no holds barred portrayal of a man abusing his power and position.
Caitlin Burley, Jing-Xuan Chan, Toni Scanlan and Matthew Zeremes round out the work’s ensemble, with absolutely stunning performances that not only help to ground the work but each adds a touch of mischievous whimsy as well.
David Fleischer’s set is richly detailed and anchors the world that constantly feels slightly off center. Nick Schlieper’s lighting design captures the tone of the work and perfectly distorts the constant fracturing of time, place and space.
Opening Night is a brilliant example of Belvoir’s current artist renaissance – by allowing artists to take the creative lead and develop work and art that is meaningful to them and speaks to what they want to say, audiences are treated to a faultless work of theatrical brilliance – that is equally creatively enriching and thoroughly entertaining.
Upstairs Theatre – Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Performance: Sunday 13 March 2022
Season continues to 27 March 2022
Information and Bookings: www.belvoir.com.au
Image: Leeanna Walsman stars as Myrtle Gordon in Opening Night – photo by Brett Boardman
Review: Gavin Roach