Sunday in the Park with George was inspired by French painter George Seurat and presents a striking tableau from the scene on the island of La Grande Jatte, the setting of one of Seurat’s most famous paintings: ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’. The second act takes place as Seurat’s artist and great-grandson reveals his own latest art work in America.
All of the cast play dual roles, except Owen Elsley (George), Sophia Barnhard (Louise) and Tisha Kelemen (George’s mother). The others appear as subjects of George’s great work and its predessor: ‘Bathers at Asnières’ – then all trade roles when young George is in America. The painting (La Grande Jatte) took George Seurat two years to complete, he made more than a dozen sketches which he worked from to create the final masterpiece that sealed his importance as a neo-Impressionist. In the play, each scene in the first act explores the back stories and mini-dramas behind the subjects of the painting.
At times, the stage was very busy with the large cast, choreography was excellent though and as George freezes the action and draws attention to the scene, we see the characters through the eyes of the artist. Accompanying music provided by Conrad Hamill who also played cello and Alexander Mau on piano and répétiteur was fantastic.
HIghlights? Owen Elsley as George and Georgina Walker as his model Dot were tremendous, their vocals soaring over the occasional cacophony of sound. Jack Dawson plays a pouting and preening artist who is always more than willing to strike a pose for a photographer at the unveiling of George’s work in the second act, Dawson struck the perfect balance of catty and insecure. The art world is exposed with biting satire as George’s fellow artists, gallerinas and assorted hangers-on convene in a sometimes shallow show of one-upmanship. Simon Ward as George’s contemporary Jules in act one is also terrific, his expressions are exaggerated to perfection.
The scale of this play is large, in keeping with Seurat’s canvases which were immense, but director Alexander Andrews has assembled the large cast with great economy of movement and set trimmings yet the overall effect was rich with sound and drama.
Presented by Little Triangle, Sunday in the Park with George is on at the Depot Theatre as a part of Sydney Fringe, and is on until 16 Sept, for more information and tickets see: http://thedepottheatre.com/2017-fringe.
Featuring: Sophia Barnhard, Erin Bogart, Jack Dawson, Owen Elsley, Harry Flitcroft, Kelly Goddard, Caitlin Rose Harris, Tisha Kelemen, Katelin Koprivec, Victoria Luxton, Nic Savage, Zach Selmes, Georgina Walker, Simon Ward, Jordan Warren and Richard Woodhouse.
Creative/Tech Team: Stephen Sondheim (music & lyrics), James Lapine (book), Alexander Andrews (director), Conrad Hamill (music director & cello), Rose McLelland (producer), Alexander Mau (répétiteur & piano), Sami Eskin (costume and stage design) and Chris Starnawski (lighting design).