Turning Back the Clock: Review of Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s Daylight Savings
Daylight Savings (1989) was Nick Enright’s break out piece. This is a sweet comedy, nearly a farce, but it’s got quite a lot of heart.
Felicity Finn is a successful manager of a swanky restaurant; she’s married to Tom, the manager and coach of the world’s number one men’s tennis player, Jason, who is high energy with an explosive ego. It seems she’s living the high life. But underneath all this Enright is casting light on a relationship that is strained. As with so many things, though, we don’t always realize how unhappy we are until something comes along to highlight the fact. In Flicker’s case it comes in the form of her old teenage sweetheart, the social reformer turned university professor and romantic, Joshua. And it just so happens that Josh turns up right while Tom is away in L.A. trying to seal a new deal for Jason. For one night she’s going to attempt to recapture the past and feel the passion of youth. But things don’t go quite to plan. Her mother, Bunty, and self-obsessed neighbor, Stephanie, aren’t about to give the couple a private moment. On top of which Tom has decided to catch the early flight home, leaving the stage set for deception and plenty of laughs.
This is a play about the allure of the past, loneliness and temptation. But ultimately we can never go back. Gradually Felicity is able to come to this conclusion on her own, and in the end the play is a reaffirmation of love.
Rachel Gordon plays Felicity, a successful chef in Pittwater who is fed up with being the second banana in a tired marriage. Gordon hits her stride when connecting with her co-stars; here she is warm and inviting. However, Gordon’s hand at comedy sometimes feels ‘tense and surprisingly unsettled’ – something her character is called by a Herald reporter. The jokes just don’t always land. On the other hand, Belinda Giblin playing Bunty, Felicity’s typical North Shore mother and widow, is perfectly in her element. She plays old and kooky beautifully, receiving a round of applause after her first exit.
Christopher Stollery is solid as Tom Finn, Felicity’s straight shooting husband. He too suffered a bit comically, largely letting one liners fall short of the mark, but Stollery was perfectly charming in his final, re-connecting moments with his wife. Ian Stenlake as Joshua Makepeace, Felicity’s old American flame, gives us a textbook ‘washed up heart throb’ and we love every minute of it. With a perfect accent to boot and just way too much charisma, Stenlake gives a great and perfectly timed performance. Honourable mention goes to Jacob Warner playing Jason Strutt, the 80s version of Bernard Tomic – a young, self-interested Tennis pro.
The standout for the evening however was by far Helen Dallimore in the role of Stephanie, Felicity’s hapless neighbour. Dallimore exudes what can best be described as an Australian version of Bubbles from Ab Fab: completely unaware and slightly off the rails. Dallimore steamrolls through every scene, and we drink this comic performance as if it were water in the desert.
Although this was Enright’s most successful play he is today probably best remembered for The Boy From Oz. This is quite an easy going comedy. It’s got a string of punchy one-liners and a collection of quirky yet warmly human characters. There are a couple of elements of the text that could have been better utilized (for example, Jason is drastically under used, which is shame), but for the most part Daylight Savings is a satisfying romp.
Daylight Savings is playing at the Eternity Playhouse until the 30th of November. For more information see: http://www.darlinghursttheatre.com/whats-on/daylight-saving