“Honey will you please take me to the theatre tonight?” This is a comment on a Lieder Theatre’s Facebook post promoting its new main stage production ‘The Touch of Silk’, and it reflects the real role theatre still plays in our lives in the new world of social media.
‘The Touch of Silk’ is the Lieder Theatre’s new play, directed by ChrisJohn Hancock. Written in the 1920s, it explores themes such as drought, post traumatic stress disorder and xenophobia – all of which are relevant in 2018.
The play takes a close and personal look at these themes through its two main female characters and their responses to the pressures of life on the land. It was written by Betty Roland whose rural upbringing inspired her creative writing.
As the play unfolds, we see Jim, who is Jeanne’s partner, struggling to pay back money owed to the town’s wealthy business man, Mr Ritchie. This creates a whirlwind of events that holds your attention throughout the entire play. The content is still relevant today, even though ‘The Touch of Silk’ was written 90 years ago.
The play has scenes which demand the audience’s attention. For example, a scene featuring Jim and Jeanne displays intense emotion and is an intimate conversation between husband and wife.
The play’s characters are well perceived by the local cast. Acting strength comes from Courtney McKenzie’s French Jeanne, to Mrs Ryan who is played by Muffy Hedges. They are superb characters who are represented well.
‘The Touch of Silk’ captures the tension and stress involved in the difficulties that farmers (Jim) and their close family (Jeanne, Nelly and Mrs Davidson) face when rain is delayed and is urgently needed. It is a humbling production that gives insight into the troubles that farmers face.
The play also tackles xenophobia (prejudice against people from other countries) as the main character, Jeanne, deals with mistrust and distance from the town. Jeanne’s mother-in-law Mrs Davidson can be seen as xenophobic society. Watching the dynamics between Jeanne and Mrs Davidson, the audience will understand what it may have been like for foreigners who struggled to fit in.
The set design and costumes portray an authentic 1920s world. The characters are displayed uniquely, with their costumes giving depth. This adds to a greater understanding of the characters and leads to more flavour in the production. The set adds to the vibrance and colour.
This play will leave you speculating about what happens to the Davidsons and Jim’s character. If you do go to see ‘Touch of Silk’ be prepared to step back in time and be entertained by a dedicated group of artisans.