Once In Royal David’s City: A Strong Piece of Work

April 26, 2017

I was delighted to be invited by the Queensland Theatre Company to watch preview scenes and meet the cast and crew of the new play ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. This contemporary play features a strong ensemble cast led by acclaimed Brisbane force Jason Klarwein (Macbeth) who plays Will, along with experienced actors like Penny Everingham who plays his mother – Jeannie in this show. In his eagerly anticipated directorial debut with Queensland Theatre is the new artistic director Sam Strong.

About the Play

The play appealed to me as it is essentially the tale of a mother and son dealing with the death of a loved one. As a mother of three sons and someone who lost their Dad too soon, I was intrigued to see the emotions and dynamics portrayed on stage. Written by one of Australia’s finest playwrights, Michael Gow, the play explores questions of what gives our life meaning and how we recover from loss. Gow tells the tale with compassion, but also with bouts of humour and entertaining interludes, so it is not as heavy going as the theme first appears.

The Story

Will (Klarwein) is a theatre director whose father passed away six weeks ago. He wants to treat his mother to a relaxing Christmas break in Byron Bay. When she arrives it is obvious she is ill herself. As he sits by her bedside, Will grapples with trying to make sense of life, questioning his feelings and fighting for change whilst trying to keep his curiosity and faith intact.

Scenes interwoven throughout the play span from the fifties to present day and from West Berlin to Byron Bay in a story that is both intimate and epic all in one.

About Penny Everingham

I was thrilled to speak to experienced actor Penny Everingham about her role as Will’s ailing mother. A mother of four sons herself the script spoke to Penny immediately. She finds it even more confronting and emotional for her as she says, “Jason Klarwein reminds me a lot of my second son.”

Penny has been involved with Queensland theatre since QPAC was built. She moved here in 1988 when her husband became a technical director, so I think Brisbane can now claim her as our own. Although she had time away from acting to raise her family you may have seen her most recently as the Nanna in ‘Hoges’. Penny was also in family favourite movies- ‘Nim’s Island’ and ‘The Real Macaw’. This NIDA graduate was also seen treading the boards in 2011’s ‘Pygmalion’. With over 40 years experience as an actor, director and costume designer Penny’s body of work is vast.

Penny explained, “I am also a puppeteer so I have worked a lot in Brisbane at the Marionette Theatre.” What a wonderful skill to have!

‘Once in David’s Royal City’ will surprise you, sadden you, make you laugh at unexpected moments and leave you asking the questions, “Why do these things happen in life? How do we react to life’s changes? “To see some of Australia’s finest actors in a play with a heart and a contemporary edge, head to QPAC , for Sam Strong’s ‘Once in David’s Royal City’. The play opens on Thursday 27 April at The Playhouse. Purchase tickets here!

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