‘Daylight Savings’ was saucy.
In the delightful production of “Daylight Saving” presented by Villanova Players, director Helen Ekundayo brings to life a comedic tale of love, lust, and dramatic escapades. Written by the late Australian playwright, Nick Enright, the play takes us back to the 1980s and into an almost farcical drama of strained relationships and unexpected guests.
Set in a sleek house overlooking a lovely lake in Pittwater in Sydney, the play unfolds on the last night daylight saving time. The play unfolds like a captivating soap opera, with escalating stakes and a constant stream of surprises. Through a series of unexpected visitors and constant interruptions, the play explores the strained marriage of Felicity, an affluent restaurant owner, and her workaholic husband, Tom. With the sudden arrival of her old flame, Josh, infidelity becomes a possibility, leading to chaotic and comedic situations.
Leading the ensemble is Victoria McCrystal as Felicity, who runs a bustling restaurant and navigates the challenges of a strained marriage. Initially, the performer seemed distant and disconnected, successfully reflecting how lost and uncertain Felicity is later revealed to be feeling. As the play progresses, McCrystal’s performance reflects the character’s growth. Although there remained a lingering sense of vulnerability in their performance, McCrystal became a far more confident presence on stage, exuding ease and charm by the end of the second act.
Playing the adulterous love interest is Michael McNish as Josh, Felicity’s old flame from her school exchange year in the USA. McNish embraces the role of the obnoxious and loud American character, delivering a predictable but amusing portrayal of the heartbreaking player. It was thoroughly entertaining to see how they transitioned from charming to sleazy without relying too heavily on comedy or melodrama. McNish certainly captured the garishness of Joshua, and while there are moments where his portrayal certainly becomes irritating in the second act, it ultimately serves the storyline well.
Alison Clark portrays Stephanie, the nosy neighbour whose presence on stage adds a delightful touch of chaos to the proceedings. Clark has a natural confidence on stage that was particularly noteworthy when portraying Stephanie’s more audacious behaviour, such as inviting herself to the romantic dinner date and helping herself to the fancy lobster.
Felicity’s oblivious mother Bunty is played by Desley Nichols. As the doting and fussing mother, Nichols brings a genuine affection to the character. Their motherly finicking and nitpicking about the set was never too much, especially when it was used to cleverly cover up a stumbled line I almost didn’t notice. Throughout the play, Nichols had a wonderfully warm stage presence, making for a delightful portrayal of Bunty.
Making a timely entrance in the second act, Peter Cattach plays the role of Tom Finn, Felicity’s workaholic husband. At first feeling like an unwelcome intrusion to the illicit romance, by the end of the play, Cattach’s performance wins over the hearts of the audience and of his wife. Although not as engaging as the other characters, Cattach delivers an authentic portrayal of a man taking a long overdue step back from their career and reprioritizing what matters in their life. Their portrayal effectively captures the character’s desire to win back his wife’s affection after years of emotional distance and nearly missing their anniversary.
At the centre of it all is Lachlan Gregory Hugh as Jason, the international tennis icon with a penchant for tantrums. Hugh provides great comic relief in his brief but entertaining appearance on stage. Their uptight portrayal of the spoiled celebrity athlete was very comical, and it was fascinating to see the dynamic between Hugh’s character and Josh. The air of naïve entitlement exuding from Hugh’s performance put a spotlight on Josh’s false charm and manipulation.
Much praise to Helen Ekundayo’s directing choices that firmly steered the piece towards soap-opera rather than leaning too far into melodrama. However, some of the sound effects used in the performance were somewhat distracting and hard to understand, and improvements in that area could enhance the overall experience. Nevertheless, with the sleek and modern set design, featuring stylish furnishings and artsy bric-a-brac, the upscale atmosphere of Felicity’s house made for a very ‘Bold and the Beautiful’-esque vibe. The props were well done and added to the humour and authenticity of the production. Using an actual magazine featuring Hugh as the tennis stud on the cover was a delightful touch to the production.
All in all, ‘Daylight Saving’ offers a delightful and fast-paced comedy that explores love, loneliness, and the challenges of managing a temperamental tennis star. The storyline is chaotic yet engaging, keeping the audience on their toes, eagerly anticipating what will happen next.
‘Daylight Savings’ performs until Sunday, 18 June 2023 at The Ron Hurley Theatre. For more information visit their website.