by Joanna Murray-Smith

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 May 2015

After 32 years of marriage, George and Honour have achieved it all; the successful marriage, the family, the house, the garden. They’re a golden couple and what’s more, they’re still desperately in love.

Honour – beautiful, intelligent and a promising writer in her youth – has been fulfilled by a life spent caring for her family and supporting George while he carved out a brilliant career in academia. Together the couple have weathered hard times, their lives becoming inextricably intertwined.

However, Honour is to learn of the appalling fragility of love when George, enchanted by a stunning, young journalist, abandons both his wife and his marriage.

The tale is a familiar one – it’s Nero and Poppea, Clinton and Lewinski – yet Joanna Murray-Smith’s fiercely intelligent play imbues it with freshness and insight. With extraordinary wit and great compassion, she questions the very nature of love: does it inevitably erode over time? Can it endure the terrible dichotomy between passion and perseverance?

Warning:  Occasional strong language

From the Director, Penny Irving …

I am excited to have been asked to direct Joanna Murray-smith’s play “Honour” for the Mullumbimby Drill Hall Theatre.

Honour’s tale of an elder man leaving his wife for a younger woman is a well-worn theme, however, the four characters in the play all have their own perspective on love, family and marriage.  The play is also a lament to the passing of youth, a weighing up of the enthusiasm and the joys of the young, against the gentle satisfaction of middle age.  Joanna Murray-Smith does domestic drama well.  The plays sadness is brightened by humour, intelligence and wit.

The cleverness of the play is what is left unsaid, the unfinished sentences between Honor and George who both have made words their life’s occupation.

I am thrilled to part of the Drill Hall Theatre and to work with such talented actors.

and some background …

Penelope Irving was born in Melbourne and in her youth joined St Martins Youth Theatre where she learnt all about theatre making and attending many Theatre workshops.

Penelope also attended the Theatre prac workshops at Central Queensland University.

Penelope has performed in:

  • The Capricorn Players production of Godspell, Cabaret, King O’Malley. Remains of The Day
  • Baz Lurmann’s Crocodile Creek.
  • Back Yard Theatre productions as a performer and director

Has Directed:

  • “Urban Nomad” for Rockhampton Community Theatre.
  • “Lament for Living” for Noosa Arts (winning play)
  • “Sophia” for RocPak and Central Queensland University (winning play)
  • “The Kiss” Performed at the Philbeam Theatre, Rockhampton.

Has obtained Sponsorships from and Grants for:

  • Greening Australia to direct “The Dance For the Conservation of The Trees”
  • Amnesty International to direct a mono drama “Examples”

Penelope’s work has included involvement in the Gender Equity program for disadvantaged schools, using drama as a tool.  Her skills have also been engaged by Rockhampton TAFE for a semester directing performances with the Hospitality students.

Employed by the Queensland Department of Education as Artist in Residence in drama to the coastal primary schools on the Capricorn Coast.

Central Queensland University – worked in the Creative Arts Programme which was developed as a collaborative project between the Faculty of Health science and the Rockhampton Mental Health Services to facilitate module related to drama.

Collaborated with Monash University and Central Queensland University performing Arts Programme on the production Of “Know Bull”

Penelope took a group of actors with disabilities to perform at Tattersalls in Brisbane as part of the state celebrations which recognised Disability Week.

Penelope was employed by Rockhampton Regional council and Yeppoon High school to facilitate theatre workshops and performances with “Kids at Risk” after school hours.

Penelope ran drama workshops for primary school children and adults at the Walter Reed Centre in Rockhampton.

Founded the Open Hand Theatre which was sponsored by The Strand Hotel In Yeppoon.

Devised and directed the opening for the “Village Arts Festival”

Worked with her husband at the WoodFord Folk Festival running workshops for seven years.

The above is just some of the stuff I have done over many years.

A Review from Maurice Morrisey

“Honour” play is an ensemble tribute to all Australian provincial theatres and the countless who nurture each performance. “Honour” is a play about the erosion of a woman’s sense of self (she being no less accomplished as her husband) as she accommodates, honouring love, her husband’s intellectual and literary successes – only to left for a younger woman, Claudia, a woman as vital as the woman she sacrificed – herself. “Honour” was a play difficult for the Mullumbimby Drill Hall Theatre to “get to up” – apparently, this production is the fourth attempt, and thankfully successful, to see the box office open. The director, Penny Irving, has moved the actors about the confined stage with economy – reflecting the precision, humour, and the matrimonial insights of this gently searing script by Joanna Murray-Smith. Such economy has permitted both the script and the acting to be appreciated in equal measure. While the stage props are sparse – the costume charges cleverly reflect the age of the characters (Amy in particular – the young daughter in the play) and the scenes of the play. Liz Chance brings to her character “Honour” a fine nuanced performance of an wife grown ever more accommodating of his husband’s life despite the casual cynicism, and insights, embedded in her matrimonial conversation. Aurea Morrisey plays Claudia; self-possessed, confident, independent and to whom love is but a means to an end– her ambitions. At the end of the play, despite Claudia realising the damage she has caused to three lives, you feel Claudia still has a way to go before she is able to honestly honour love – such lingering engagement marking a memorable performance. Aya Emery plays the difficult role of a young daughter in her early ‘twenties, Sophie, and only slightly younger than Claudia. Amy Emery captures the generational change in values, and these she shares with Claudia, while being bewildered by the lost of the security of a joint parental love. Mike Russo plays George – the husband and a well practised ego centric bastard.Mike Russo’s performance quickly conveys George’s emotional separation from the marriage many years previous – all hidden behind the deluded subterfuge of intellectualisation. A difficult role but mastered. Once again, applaud this cast, this company and provincial theatre!
Disclaimer: I’m Aurea’s Dad.”