Entertainment » Theatre

Grey Nomad

by Dale Reynolds
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Sep 18, 2017
Paul Tassone and Ros Gentle
Paul Tassone and Ros Gentle   

"Grey Nomad," by Dan Lee, is a world premiere play about Grey Nomads, retired seniors who spend much of their later years traveling in caravans/RVs around the perimeter of (or crisscrossing the center of) Australia, the largest island/continent in the world.

The comedy is set primarily in Broome, a part of the wild country in Western Australia, where the desert meets the sea. In it, two couples, Helen (Roz Gentle) and Jim (David Ross Patterson), are wary of another more rambunctious couple, slightly younger than they, Val (Wendy Hammers) and Tim (Paul Tassone). For one thing, both of the later are confirmed naturists/nudists, which is somewhat off-putting to Helen and Jim, although it's played here for laughs.

And while they try to dodge them, their lives do overlap in this Caravan Center, where the women eventually bond and the men try and stay above the fray. Tim wants to get both of the others to unwind through yoga and meditation, whereas Jim would prefer his beer.

As the play progresses, we can see the seams breaking ever-so-slightly between the married couples, especially when Helen goes to a ribald nightclub with Val to drink and be naughty. But folk being what they are, the cracks don't become brakes, and the vessel of friendship and love carries on.

In large part, that is due to the strength of the quartet's work here: Gentle brings quiet self-respect and poise to Helen, while Hammers, an American, lets Val's love of life erupt in front of us. The part was never intended to be played as American, but it works here because that fact doesn't change any perspectives. Patterson and Tassone demonstrate male strengths with humor and insight.

It's truly a lovely show, with proper dignity and foolishness intertwining to make it a fun evening. A major asset is the technical skills demonstrated in Se Oh's extremely simple set of backdrop scrim and lounge-camp chairs, aided by the elegant lighting design of Jared A. Saveg and the beautifully sensible costumes of Kate Bergh.

Director Iain Sinclair, imported from Sydney for this production, is right on top of everything, adding to the sense of calm while creating a visibly adult play. Producers Jackie Diamond, Nick Hardcastle, Nate Jones and Joshua Thornburn, working as the Australian Theatre Company, have, indeed, continued their superlative work in introducing us to many of the Australian talents who now inhabit Southern California.

"Grey Nomad" plays through October 8 as a visiting production at the Skylight Theatre, 1816½ N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles 90027. For tickets or information, call 866-811-4111 or visit www.australiantheatrecompany.org

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