Review: The Torrents at the Heath Ledger Theatre

By Tatum Stafford


Celia Pacquola is a firecracker of Australian entertainment – and her spritely opening

address to an eager opening night audience at the State Theatre on Wednesday night only

further proved this.


‘The Torrents’ was written by Oriel Gray in 1955 and chronicles the plight of a headstrong

female journalist in a country town in the late 1890s. Fascinatingly, as Pacquola mentioned

in her pre-show monologue, this production is only the second time that this show has been

professionally performed.


A co-production from Black Swan and Sydney Theatre Companies, the performance of this

quick-witted play challenges ideals and is packed with laughs and heart. As the curtain rose,

we were presented with a somewhat familiar set of a small country town’s office – but as

the play progresses, it becomes so much more than that. Not only is the Western Argus

newspaper’s office a congregation point for its workers, but it serves as a stop on the

journey of each character as they flit in and out in moments of chaos, yearning or even

comic intent.


The cast of ‘The Torrents’ are sublime. Led by the effervescent Paquola as J. G. (Jenny)

Milford; a determined and steadfast young journalist, each character slots effortlessly into

the place of the story and makes for series of very entertaining banter and repartee with

one another (much to the audience’s delight).


Tony Cogin was charmingly authoritative as the newspaper editor Rufus Torrent, and his son

Ben (hilariously portrayed by Gareth Davies) provides a majority of the show’s physical and

nuanced comedy sequences. The ‘three musketeers’ at the paper are Jock McDonald (Sam

Longley), Bernie (Rob Johnson) and Christy (Geoff Kelso) – all of whom display perfect

comedic timing and, eventually, provide a sentimental core to what could be deemed a

bleak show about female suppression in the workforce.


Emily Rose Brennan marks her return to Black Swan after her brilliant performance in

Water, appearing in this play as Gwynne – a traditional-turned-new woman who serves as

an excellent representation of the effects of female empowerment and strong female role

models. Her ever-pursuing companion Kingsley is played spritefully by the cheery Luke

Carroll.


All in all, this play is a delight to attend, and every one of its cast and creatives should be

very pleased with the power that this performance holds in today’s post-modern society

that is more adaptive and reactive to positive change than ever. Toi toi for a long, healthy

run!


Photo Credit: Philip Gostelow

All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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