JAVEA Players dug deep to present a rich vein of entertainment with a colourful version of On Golden Pond, a play investigating the complex nature of family relationships.
The story revolves around pensioners Norman and Ethel Thayer and their traditional summer at a lakeside holiday home in Maine in the United States, an annual getaway they have enjoyed for decades.
But the arrival of daughter Chelsea, her fiancé and his teenage son cause ripples that have a lasting effect on all their lives – giving the play its wonderful comic and moving moments.
Many people will be familiar with Hollywood’s version of the story, starring Henry Fonda as Norman, Katharine Hepburn as Ethel, and Jane Fonda as Chelsea. However, On Golden Pond started life as a play and director Ron Skinner and his team did a splendid job at the Union Musical de Gata.
And with a story looking at the passing of time and generations, there was a remarkably mature debut from XIC student Luke Holmes, the 12-year-old making an outstanding performance as Billy Ray, the bored youngster ‘dumped’ by Chelsea and his father as they go on a trip to Europe.
Mike Martin was a wonderful Norman, who hates growing old but beneath the barbed wire protected cranky exterior beats a heart of gold and as well as bringing much of the humour to the play, the bond he forms with Billy is truly uplifting.
Bug-fearing big-hearted Ethel was played by Rosemary Brown as a true optimist with a feisty side and Leigh Patterson was Chelsea – the daughter who bounces from half-full optimism to chip-on-shoulder anger…her breeding very much to the fore.
On Chelsea’s team was dentist lover Bill Ray, Nigel Poole, who has been ‘warned’ about Norman’s idiosyncrasies; and chuckling postman Charlie (Michael O’Neill) just enjoyed being with the entire family.
First night nerves did cause an early hiccough but once the cast were in a groove, the performances were natural and well-timed; keeping On Golden Pond alive and all eyes on the stage – the scenery excellent, especially the ever-changing light on the lake.