REVIEW BY DAVE MURDOCH Roger Hall classic at the Fountain
Anyone who has been to university will identify with the experiences four women who attended as adult students described in By Degrees from Roger Hall.
Anyone who has not been to university will identify with the experiences these women have interacting with those around them — their families in particular — as their worlds change.
In other words there is something for everyone in By Degrees which opened in the Fountain Theatre on Thursday June 7.
In the play the four actors talk directly to the audience, describing their different experiences as they decide to enrol, attend lectures and tutorials, study and sit examinations and react to their results.
All the time they describe the effects on themselves — Shirley’s disappointment at the lack of goodlooking lecturers is clear when she says one “has not enough energy to light a 60 watt bulb” but Glenys marvels at classical studies saying “I never realised they knew so much about the olden days”.
These kinds of comments reflect each woman’s upbringing, age and home circumstance and provide a regular flow of observations which has the audience chuckling throughout.
The first half of the show covers two years at university — how the women progress, what they discover along the way about themselves and how the families react to mum/sister at uni.
In the second half the third and final year is full of triumphs, disappointments, humour and sadnesses, with challenges as the students branch into other subjects like psychology, legal history and French, and some final questions.
Director Josie Robertson has the cast script perfect, lighting and continuity also perfectly in synch and flowing seamlessly despite the focus switching from one women to another so frequently.
For the cast the demanding challenge of learning and delivering so many lines without cast interaction has been managed superbly. Every character is believable and their families are just as familiar by the end of the play, despite never being on stage.
The play, set in the 1980s, is delivered on a spartan set with costuming nicely varied to reflect the seasons, the ages and the events.
The show is on for another week starting Wednesday June 13 with the final night Friday June 15.
Tickets cost adults $25, seniors $22 and can be purchased from the Dannevirke Information Centre. There are door sales but the last show sold out.
TUTORIALS are not much better.
GLENYS looks confused at her first lecture.
SOLO mum Clare describes her motivation for going to university.