The Basin Theatre Group has a long-standing reputation for fine hospitality, a magnificent stage and (desperately lacking in many other amateur theatres) comfortable seats. Just moving into the auditorium brings back fond memories of the last visit, however many years ago it might have been. It also boasts a more professional looking stage and set-up than the norm, and set design which is always second to none.
“A Happy and Holy Occasion” was no exception to this; nineteen-forties Australia was represented in every stroke of the brush and creak of the doorknob on that wonderful stage. Even the smaller props were carefully selected; if that was not a petrol lighter, then it looked more than enough like one!
Another tradition which stands at The Basin Theatre, tends to be unusual choices of scripts. This is not a theatre wherein the works of Neil Simon, Edward Albee or David Mamet are much represented, and even their English counterparts seldom get a look in, with the odd exception. Local writers are more highly sought, it would seem, and while there can be no doubt there are some works of gold out there just waiting to be discovered, John O’Donoghue’s “A Happy and Holy Occasion” didn’t quite reach that mark, in my opinion; though any work which criticizes the institution of religion is to be commended. There are a few scenes which lend themselves well to fine performances and glimpses of humor and genuine anxiety shine through in the text, however, the work as a whole could potentially be improved further. It must be said, it is refreshing to be critiquing a locally-produced script, and it speaks volumes of The Basin Theatre that they are willing to venture such pieces.
There were two discoveries of Bishop’s which deserve entirely a standing ovation; Kirby Chenhall was deeply connected and honest in his work as “Tocky” Keating; and Kate McManus as Mary O’Mahon found her way into the subtle complexities of her character with wonderfully connected truth. Both elevated the night beyond the moniker “amateur”, and the scenes they shared were dynamite.
This is amateur theatre at no less than its finest, and with the exemplary friendliness and endearing love for the stage shared by all in The Basin Theatre family, any play is worth the admission ticket, for one is always guaranteed a happy, if not entirely holy, occasion.
Review by Max Davine, Learn more about our media team HERE
Editor: Crystal Corocher, Follow Good Vibes Melbourne Media
Photo Credits: Courtesy of The Basin Theatre
Find out more about The Basin Theatre here