25: Honour

15 Apr

Joanna Murray-Smith’s plays get programmed a lot in Australia. She may well be our most successful female playwright. So, it’s surprising that Honour left me as cold as it did.

Gus and Honor are in their fifties and have been married for 32 years. They have a daughter, Sophie, they adore and their lives seem successful and very comfortable. But then Claudia arrives on the scene to interview Gus for a book she’s writing: Messages from the Media: our ten most influential communicators. Claudia is young, the same age as Sophie, smart, beautiful and very interested in Gus.

play on yellow tablecloth

Mid-life crises seem so ordinary, and that’s what Joanna Murray-Smith says in Honour. That perhaps the strength is in not falling, not allowing yourself to lose everything for love (or infatuation).

The writing is naturalistic (or should that be realistic? There’s a nice debate about the meanings of these two words within the play.), which makes it awkward to read. All the repetition, stumbling and half finished thoughts are written into the dialogue. For instance:

GUS: Sometimes one craves something for years – for years – and one just defers from – from acting on it –

and later:

GUS: Honor –
HONOR: Yes –
GUS: Honor –
HONOR: Are you sick?
GUS: No –
HONOR: Sophie –
GUS: No – no.
HONOR: You’ve been – The paper?
GUS: No. Not that.

This might be the way we talk in real life, but it’s painful to read it on the page. I don’t want my theatre to be just like real life. I want it to be heightened, enlarged, exaggerated, satirised, pulled apart and reconstructed to make it possible to see the world differently. To make it profound.

Honour has been extremely successful in productions around Australia. But, for me, it’s too much of a talk fest.

Publisher: Currency Press

Cast: 3F, 1M

One Response to “25: Honour”

  1. Lucas Stibbard April 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Not a fan of JM-S at the best of times *coughninetyandcoughfemaleofthespecies*, but this one is my least fave. Without a hint of irony a character in this play uses the word inarticulate to describe her inarticulacy!

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