As I sit and reminisce about all the joy being theatre editor has brought me this year I stumble across memories of some incredible productions. There are musicals and comedy nights; however, the one I remember most fondly is The Book Club.
The Book Club is the first forage into stage writing Rachel Naylor has ever done and there is no way you could have guessed. The show was full of witty remarks that seemed to compliment the genuine emotional struggle her characters portrayed. First making its debut in the first semester of last year at SUDS showcase where her selected scene received a standing ovation, Naylor built on her success to produce an even better play than her fans expected
The play itself focuses on three women and their monthly book club. Through this we learn of their heart breaks, trials and tribulations. The three women, Michelle, Susan and Janet, were all different in their own lovable way. Michelle, played by Evie Tosswell, exuded the sort of charm and confidence that to a degree we all aspire to someday. Susan on the other hand, played by Rachael Thornton, was timid, purely kind and had a loveable vulnerability that made the audience empathise with her almost instantly. And finally Janet, executed perfectly by Sara Raja – Janet was matter-of-fact, open and seemed to be the most with her life together (or so we thought). With their own distinct personalities and accompanying families, Naylor orchestrated a natural comedic likeness to the scenes.
The reception after the show speaks for itself as members of the audiences from all ages said they felt ‘touched’ after having watched The Book Club. Due to the range of characters who were all distinct in their own way, it was only natural that audience members were able to identify aspects of themselves in either Susan, Jackie or Michelle. As a result, it meant that the audience were more invested in the characters; therefore, establishing a real genuine connection between stage and seat – one that very few actors, writers and directors are able to cultivate.
Having not seen much student written theatre before I was unsure how the play itself would be executed; however, Naylor surpassed all expectations. There was a maturity in her writing beyond her years, mimicking natural life perfectly. There was an element of intrusion felt by the audience in a David Attenborough-esque way as we were given an insight into what seemed like ‘real life’.
Marketed as a comedy, The Book Club itself was so much more. It was a rollercoaster of emotions as Naylor built on the connection the audience established with the characters, to then break away their defenses and show them vulnerable. Just in case The Book Club hits a stage near you in the future I won’t spoil the ending but should you ever get the opportunity to watch it, I would highly recommend.