Printable CopyMOLLY'S SHOES
Accidental Productions
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 04 Jun 2011

Review by Jamie Wright

Flashback to the late 1990s. David is a self-confessed geek; imagine his surprise when he wins theaffection of the decidedly non-geeky Elspeth, after they meet in Professor Molly Taffy's undergraduatephysics course. But after his studies lead him to ask questions of a more religious than scientific nature,the two drift apart. In the present, an ailing Molly is suffering from dementia, and David is caring for hisold mentor in her last days and wrestling with ethical questions on a much more personal level.

Alex Vickery-Howe's Stoppard-esque script weaves together the difficulties of a relationship between twostrong-minded people, the philosophical examination of the relationship between science and religion,and the emotional and ethical implications of watching a loved one suffering from an untreatable,debilitating condition – with scenes alternating between present and past.

Under Joh Hartog's direction, the cast find both the humour and the sadness in the script; pace ismaintained, though the occasional scene sees a drop in intensity – an example being the one whereElspeth reads from the newspaper, which feels slightly out of place.

Both Tim Smith and Rachel Jones play late-1990s David and Elspeth with energy, intensity and humour,contrasting well against Katie O'Reilly's grounded, sensible Professor Taffy. Present-day David andElspeth are played by John Maurice and Joanne Hartstone; both do well with the more serious tone andbriefer appearances. Bridget Walters, as present-day Professor Taffy, gets the best material – bothcomic and tragic – and is excellent at both.

Tammy Bowden's set design is minimalist, allowing for the frequent scene changes – both between andwithin the two periods – and the projected animations were effective. Stephen Dean's lighting wasmostly functional early on, aiding in the scene transitions but was cleverer in the later scenes when usedfor impact.

Weaving together emotional and intellectual threads like these is a tough ask and while this productionsucceeds with the former, the latter aspect is less satisfying, as there isn't enough time to give thecomplex issues the treatment they deserve. As a result, we end up with less than the amount neededfor a real examination but more than that required to provide depth to the characters.

This flaw, though, only detracts somewhat from an otherwise clever, funny and genuinely touchingproduction.