Monday, March 11, 2013

Review of Souvenir Play

Souvenir is a play based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, an eccentric of the early 20th century who believes in her non-existent ability to sing.

This play was directed by Peter J Adams and the Australian premiere was created by Stephen Temperley. It was performed at Chapel Off Chapel theatre in Prahran, Victoria.

It explores the relationship between Hart(Stephen McIntyre) and Lady Flo (Helen Noonan) leading up to her final performance at Carnegie Hall. I found both characters to be well played, McIntyre interacts well with the audience, adds a sense of jazz and comedy through his piano playing and monologues. Noonan embodies the character fully through her physical language and spoken language successfully building an eccentric performance. She reached the climax of her performance in the Carnegie Hall play, embodying a Spanish-singing maraca playing role with costume to match and adding her lack of tone to the laughing opera song. They both make use of rhyme in speech and song with success. I also found their voices to be representative of their social status, with Hart having a colloquial New Yorker accent while Lady Flo has an upper-class air in her speech, inserting French phrases, reminiscent of the Anglophile American speech (influenced by British English) of the beginning of the 20th century.

There are various moments of tension in the play: firstly, by Hart being disgusted with her singing and almost leading himself away to live a separate life. Secondly, Lady Flo comes to the realisation that her performance at Carnegie Hall is being laughed at and the two characters have to find their sense of trust again. Hart, sees Lady Flo as a source of financial support and is willing to mislead her through false promises to keep her confidence up.

Another point for their interpersonal relationship is Hart's own interests in music (jazz and the songs he has written) and Lady Flo's commitment to opera and older forms of music. Lady Flo belittles it at first but as their relationship builds Lady Flo intends to use Hart's music which Hart is scared of using at first (because of his personal embarrassment) but Hart gives in and Lady Flo performs it on Carnegie Hall to a full crowd.

Although this play was overall successful I do find fault with the over-emphasis on Hart as narrator and supporting character, I do feel that they crossed the line drawing emphasis away from Lady Flo. By Hart serving as narrator and supporting actor we need to be continually drawn into Lady Flo's life and by his role as supporting actor we can't let ourselves be overdrawn into his life.

No comments:

Post a Comment