Book Of Days, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson, looks into the life of a small town in the American Midwest.

The town of Dublin, Missouri witnesses a change of pace with the arrival of a Hollywood director, a production of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, and the death of a prominent businessman. As life begins to imitate art for the townspeople, the status quo of the local cheese factory, the fundamentalist church, and the hierarchy of the town seem threatened.

New Theatre’s production, directed by Elsie Edgerton-Till, marks the play’s Australian debut, and it is very cleverly executed. The entire cast is present onstage for the duration of the show, which is really effective in reflecting the small-town feeling of the play. This dynamic cast brings a real ease and familiarity to the stage, while also remaining really tight as a production, which seems to be a necessity for a play with so much going on.

The decision to use Missouri accents is distracting at first, with some of the accents coming off a little too cheesy. However, it seems to make more sense as the play progresses, as the narrative is so firmly placed in the Bible Belt of America. Simon Davey is a real standout in the role of James, the philandering son of a prominent Dublin businessman. Gael Ballantyne deserves a mention too, bringing a lot of comedy to the role of Martha.

The play is an interesting one and clearly has a lot to say, sometimes a little too bluntly perhaps. Book Of Days is definitely worth a look, and makes for a funny, touching, and reflective theatregoing experience.

3.5/5 stars

Book Of Daysis playing at New Theatre until Saturday August 9.

Tell Us What You Think