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Cast excel in melancholic drama

It's an intriguing, dramatic idea to run time backwards in order to show the course of a relationship.

In this case, Bill and Emily's 63-year marriage arms the audience with future knowledge which, in turn, sharpens the significance of the imagery of the piece the further back in time we go.

Elizabeth Jane Howard's 1956 novel The Long View is a well-crafted example.

The overall effect of this technique is actually melancholic. We know that Bill and Emily's dog is dead and buried before we get to hear that he's alive. We know of the couple's unrealised hopes, infidelities and failed plans before they are first mooted. The references to the game show Jeopardy!, in which contestants supply questions to answers, is an apt image for the time reversal. But at the same time we're observing a preordained universe with all that that implies.

But what gripped us [at Thursday night's show] was the sparkle, quality, pace and energy of the acting, the direction by Nicola Flood and the production by Jenn Campbell. Christine Whitestone (Emily) and Maxwell King (Bill) easily transformed from old age to youth.

They gained energy as they lived through the stages of their marriage backwards; as part of it all we witnessed a disastrous fling by Bill with a thrice-divorced gold-digging “floozy” (nicely acted by Donna Nicholson). The dialogue bubbled with originality and a sort of cosmic humour: “Does Heaven look like the Sistine Chapel or Tahiti?, Garden of Eden? Church Counsel or Cosmic SNAFU?”

The soundtracks were well chosen: Go Now by the Moody Blues, The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, Age of Aquarius from Hair and Ina Gadda da Vida by Iron Butterfly.

Back Words is a moving, thought-provoking play with outstanding performances by this talented cast.

Performances continue Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Daylesford Theatre at 8pm. Tickets, $25, are available at the door an hour before showtime or at For more information call 292-0845.

Leading light: Christine Whitestone as Emily in Back Words (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published October 03, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 03, 2016 at 7:52 am)

Cast excel in melancholic drama

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