Venue: Drama Barn
From the start of The Gift of the Gorgon, it is clear that this was a very ambitious play for Dramasoc to attempt. Considering the limited facilities of the Drama Barn, the mind boggles when we consider this play requires (amongst other things) a funeral, the blinding light of a Greek sun, a host of mythological characters clamouring for attention as well as a deus ex machina. Not only that, but the pace of this play is relatively sedate in contrast to its extreme content, chronicling the life of an extremist playwright, Edward Damson. It requires a delicacy of delivery in its lengthy speeches and complex conversations that would be highly demanding for the most professional of actors. And yet, despite a slightly stilted start, Gorgon was illuminated with talent, most notably in the form of its leading actor, James Quelch. The role of Edward Damson is peppered with monologues, extremist behaviour and very challenging moments, and Quelch did himself proud at every opportunity. In fact, his fellow actors almost struggled to keep up with him at times, even when James was slumped silently besides them, timing drunken gestures with comic bravado. However, this is not to say we lost sight of the play in the shadow of Edward Damson – the music choices were inspired, and the required technicalities were carefully thought out with only the occasional glitch. Lisa Breitschuh portrayed Helen Damson masterfully, drawing our eye to her whilst still allowing space for the playwright’s melodrama. Additionally, the rapid costume changes – most notably from a grouchy Greek peasant to a goddess – were very impressive. For such an unlikely Drama Barn choice, this play held its audience captive throughout its 3 hour run.