Reviewed by: Russell Starke OAM
Puccini's "Butterfly" has careless invading American crushing naive love of Japanese maiden in the 1800's. Reverse plot & move to Paris & Beijing from the 1960's to the present day.
James Whitrow superbly creates French Diplomat Rene Gallimard as a series of delicate brush strokes on water, later to erupt violently.
A shallow pond, a dull French Civil Servant marooned in the East to some, but beneath the surface vibrantly & excitedly self-absorbed in reflecting the passions & colours of his exotic mistress Song Liling, his BUTTERFLY.
Twenty years after first playing this Courtesan role James Edwards is a consummate seductress.
Gliding in white silk, constantly proclaiming virginity, voice sibilant, neck elegantly curved, yielding with lips and fingers in submission, he gathers reports & ultimately inveigles his lover to steal State Secrets on the Vietnam war for the Chinese.
John Graham as Director of this Triumph for St Jude’s has shied away from nothing in his masterly conception in every possible piece of this brilliant presentation.
Don Oakley’s Oriental jigsaw of a set concisely fits and carries motion and intent with ease aided in no small part by Leigh Wheatley's complex lighting. Along with Paul Tossell’s careful sound backgrounds.
Their subtle interpretations are fragile moments easy to miss in the vast sweep & intensity of the piece: the hesitant-almost-kiss of the lovers; gaunt & rain drenched in purple Kyla Booth's stricken face collapsing in resignation as the rejected wife; Kristin Telfer deliciously straightforward as a roly poly Chairman Mai look-a-like spy catcher; far beyond these Gallimard's bitter laughing rejection in a horrifying role reversal of his erstwhile lover.
Hwang's crisp writing leaps into intimate spaces, slips sideways to a gaol cell, through to a Cocktail party, into brutal interrogation, into the glare of lost loves, ultimately out to the bitter grief of suicide bloody in scarlet silk, short sword, carefully posed supporters, the blank white face & kohl smudged eyes of another grotesque Butterfly.