Directed by Geoff Brittain
Words by Austin Frape
Adapted from the 1991 play by Edward Albee, Three Tall Women is the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s latest production from director Geoff Brittain and stars Jean Walker, Rachel Burfield and Jessica Carroll. The play centres around three unnamed women having a conversation in one room. Through their conversations, they discuss the progression of the highest and lowest moments in life by sharing experiences that they have certain perspectives on or are yet to happen.
The first act is about a wealthy woman in her early 90’s that is fading physically and mentally (Walker). As any person in her position would, she endlessly discusses her life stories to her nurse (Burfield) and a lawyer (Carroll). In this act, the three captured perfectly the comedy in the lady’s forgetfulness and the frustrations of the lawyer wanting the conversations to be kept consistent and the nurse’s patience on the balance based on the lady’s actions. Walker was of course quite the stand out, being both hilarious and tragic as the forgetful woman. In this act, I paid close attention to the bedroom design by Ole Wiebkin and how the actors interacted in this environment. It was quite a complex set for such a small space as the actors had to move around from different chairs in angles facing away from certain corners of the audience and it brought very specific emotions depending on what side of the theatre an audience member would be sitting.
In the second act, the three women then portray the lady from different points in time. A (Walker) represents a very experienced and aged side of the character, B (Burfield) portrays a middle aged version of the character and C (Carroll) conveys a youthful time in the character’s life. They discuss (or argue, more accurately) events that are yet to happen as C is left in disbelief to the big reveals made by A and B. Out of the two acts, this one felt the most engaging due to the premise of the same person in different points in time having a conversation being quite intriguing and performed brilliantly. Carroll in particular showed quite versatile acting, going from a timid lawyer to a young woman finding her way in the world. However, Rachel Burfield was simply fantastic. She transitioned from a comedic and grouchy nurse to a heartbroken mother quite smoothly, bringing out some amazing and quite confronting emotions that I have not seen in the theatre in quite a while. The use of lighting and music helped compliment the performances, allowing a very specific focus to when they each would have a monologue.
Overall, Three Tall Women was a great production from the UATG, showcasing some really wonderful performances and really impressive set design. Three Tall Women is playing from the 9th to the 19th of August, highly recommend having a look.