Reviewed by Ceri Horner
Andrew Bovell’s play Holy Day is a brilliantly constructed and brutally confronting murder mystery set on the edge of white settlement in Australia in the mid –nineteenth century. Holy day centres around the bloodied wife of a missionary who arrives at a travellers rest with a terrifying story to tell.
This production, directed by John Graham has excellent pace and maintains the required tension throughout. Graham employs excellent use of the space. The rustic, well designed multi-level set by Normajean Ohlsenn aided the flow and highlighted the discriminatory issues by placing some characters above others.
Brant Eustice is disturbingly menacing as the cruel and ill-tempered ex-convict Goundry, balanced well by Cate Rogers as Nora, the feisty manager of the travellers rest. Steve Marvanek is solid as the kind hearted Wakefield, as is Robert Bell as the silent and disturbed Cornelius.
Fiona Lardner tackles the complex role of Elizabeth, the missionary’s wife, with fair competence as does Nicole Orr in the role of Linda.
Carissa Lee ably portrays a vulnerable Obedience and capably meters the development of her confidence as the story unfolds, while Matt Houston makes a credible Epstein, even if his accent wasn’t quite right.
The, costumes by Lisa Lukacs and lighting by Richard Parkhill are superb, however the bush sound effects are too loud, repetitive and therefore very distracting.
Holy Day is magnificent storytelling, tackling some interesting and shameful blemishes in Australian history that are still uncomfortably relevant. This production although lacking punch in a few places, is a good interpretation of Bovell’s engaging script, which leads to a powerful and emotional conclusion.