THE ONE DAY OF THE YEAR
by Alan Seymour.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Arms 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 13 June 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk (no booking fee by ’phone or online).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 May.
Post-war generation divide, Australian style, revived with understanding.
Australian writer Alan Seymour was born in 1927 (he died in March 2015). His theatre triumph The One Day of the Year was written in 1958 for a competition, rather as English playwright John Osborne had submitted his play Look Back in Anger to the Royal Court some three years earlier.
Seymour was born in 1927, two years before Osborne. Half a world apart geographically, they were the same generation, zoomed in with sudden success from theatre’s outer edges, and used articulate young men to hit-out at society.
There are differences. The young woman here, Jan, while notably higher in society than young Hughie, encourages his advanced ideas. And the older generation, in Anger represented only by one, briefly seen character, is here represented across two generations, constantly present, as the action’s set in their home.
If Hughie doesn’t have the lion’s part, he still makes quite a roar. And merely by questioning Anzac Day, Seymour takes a radical stance. On a level with Remembrance Sunday in Britain, it’s the annual memorial for Australian and New Zealand troops who fought and died in the First World War, marked on 25 April, first day of the failed Gallipoli invasion in 1915.
Old Wacka was there, though he says little. Over 40 years later Hughie’s dad, Alf, attends the ceremony yearly, and is shocked his son won’t observe the day. The young people, brash but determinedly frank, believe the celebrations are an undignified excuse for drunken revelry.
Australian director Wayne Harrison clearly understands the Day and the play, in a production with effective acting, from Adele Querol’s Jan, polite in manner but sure of her opinions, through James William Wright’s Hughie, vehemently decrying hypocrisy, to Mark Little, whose Alf is unreflecting but sincere in his assumptions. Paul Haley’s old soldier sees events through a bottle but accurately records the limited view of a soldier caught in the rush of battle.
Most moving is Fiona Press, showing the hardworking patience of the mother and wife who wants peace in the household and fights to achieve it, in another valuable rarity at the Finborough.
Wacka: Paul Haley.
Alf: Mark Little.
Dot: Fiona Press
Jan: Adele Querol.
Hughie: James William Wright.
Director: Wayne Harrison.
Designer: Catherine Morgan.
Lighting: Marec Joyce.
Sound: Chris Drohan.
Costume: Holly Rose Henshaw.