Holiday in the Sun
nytheatre.com review by David DelGrosso
August 15, 2004
With so many choices of shows splitting the audiences at FringeNYC, a house of fewer than ten people is not an uncommon sight. However I imagine it takes real professional discipline to give your all to eight people when you have come halfway across the world to perform. The three driven and confident actors from Sydney, Australia were undaunted by this, and from the opening of Sean O’riordan’s Holiday in the Sun, the vocal energy was so strong and the speaking crisp and clear that I was able to relax, knowing we were in good hands.
O’riordan’s play concerns two estranged school friends, Bretta (Deborah Ann Hanley) and Holly (Lisa Scope), who meet by chance and decide to reconnect by spending a holiday in a seaside cabin. The young women shared many things in their youth—a passion for protesting in the streets, innocently calling for “The Revolution” with a capital "R"; a shopping adventure in New York City—but are now grown up and have disparate careers: Holly teaches school, Bretta has joined the police force. Together again in this secluded cabin, Holly seems at ease, while Bretta, haunted by a secret, keeps predicting that a storm is coming, and is unnaturally drawn towards the steep cliffs.
The play is fluid in time and place. A series of non-linear flashbacks, separated by bursts of music to keep the energy up, shows us this friendship over the course of many years. The scenes play out as Holly and Bretta remember them in their present state; that is to say, each flashback is colored either by Holly’s vibrancy or Bretta’s foreboding. Playwright O’riordan and director Sandra Lee Paterson have an excellent command of menace—throughout the play we feel Bretta’s approaching storm, as if a portentous cloud is passing over these memories and heading for the small cabin.
This menace is established most effectively by the use of the third character, simply called the Girl (Suzanne Mackay). At first it seems that the third actor will simply be playing all of the roles that are not Holly or Bretta—a frequent enough convention in a small-cast play. But soon it becomes clear that the Girl is a presence haunting their memories, appearing in their shared past, sometimes in unexpected places and always as this same Girl. The device helps to maintain the ghost-story tone, and also fits well with the play’s themes of memory and the unreliable ways we look back on the past.
This theatre company, Rhose Entertainment, is also presenting Sorry...(i love you) at FringeNYC, with the same three performers.