Galleon Theatre Group
Domain Theatre
Until 13 May 2017

Review by John Wells

David Williamson announced his retirement from main-stage theatre in 2005. But he has been active in his retirement, writing numerous plays including “Let the Sunshine”, which was first produced in 2009. Williamson should have kept his laptop closed. “Let the Sunshine” is a rambling, unfocussed and oddly passionless work.

Toby, an aging leftie documentary film-maker, has escaped the grime of Sydney with his publisher wife Ros, and settled in sunny Noosa. But Toby chafes against the white-shoed consumerism he finds on the Sunshine Coast; he is unhappy, angry and unpleasant. Ron, a boorish local multi-millionaire property developer, can’t stand Toby’s whining socialist diatribes, but, because his vacuous wife Natasha goes to the same book club as Ros, they are thrown together socially. The comedy of the play revolves around the competing political perspectives of the two couples.

When Toby’s listless musician son and Ron’s aggressive lawyer daughter meet and begin a relationship, they are all forced to interact closely with each other.

At his best, Williamson observes middle class foibles with forensic skill and brilliantine wit. But this is Williamson at his worst: the script is superficial and unsophisticated. Williamson creates characters free of nuance or complexity. The political conflicts are dull, over-wrought and under-written. The wives, Natasha and Ros, are inexcusably shallow characters. The play suffers from many short, unnecessary scenes as the second act limps to an oddly deflating anti-climax. The overall effect is a tawdry melodrama.

Happily, this is a robust and successful community theatre production. The production rises above the deficiencies in the script. Director Vicky Horwood has a light touch, keeping the action moving. The ensemble is strong. Andrew Horwood (Ron) wrings plenty of laughs out of Ron’s crass awfulness, and Anita Canala (Natsaha) is a picture of smug snobbery. Kym Clayton (Toby) is suitably irascible, and Charlotte Batty (as Emma, Ron and Natasha’s opinionated daughter) has some great moments of comedic scorn and exasperation.

The pace flags a little, and the relationships need time to settle, but the performers all work well together. I would expect the production to tighten as the season progresses.

While this play is not as funny as Williamson’s better works, there were plenty of hearty laughs from the supportive and large opening night crowd.