THE West Australian premiere of Don Parties On – the sequel to David Willamson’s classic Don’s Party – comes to Melville Theatre this February and March.
Both use Federal elections as a backdrop: the original was set as the 1969 Gough Whitlam v John Gorton challenge unfolded while the sequel is set during the 2010 election night of the Julia Gillard v Tony Abbott campaign.
In Don Parties On, Don and Kath Henderson host another election night party and while some friends have remained throughout the intervening years, others have become estranged.
Over the decades, governments have come and gone but the group of baby boomers still hasn’t learnt that politics and strong personalities should never be mixed with alcohol.
Director Jeffrey Hansen previously directed Don’s Party at Melville Theatre in 2011 but stressed audiences won’t need to have seen the original play to follow the sequel.
“Don's lifelong friend Mal shows up and invites his ex-wife Jenny, much to the dismay of Don and Kath because they parted on rather bad terms,” he said.
“Cooley, always the ladies man, is now married to the gorgeous Helen.
“Don and Kath's son, Richard, is now 42 and has recently split from his wife but his daughter can't stand the sight of his new girlfriend.
“As the evening progresses, many skeletons come out of the closet – who slept with whom and who knew about it?”
Having directed the original play, Hansen says he has a good understanding of the dynamics between the characters and is trying to stay true to what has gone before.
“I feel a duty to the audience to try to re-create the characters they know so well, either from watching the play or, more probably, the 1976 movie version of Don’s Party featuring Graham Kennedy and Graeme Blundell,” he said.
“I have put together a very experienced and competent cast, who seem to be having great fun rehearsing together – sometimes a little too much fun, although the play lends itself to having a good time.”
Involved in theatre for the past 33 years, Hansen’s first role was in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at high school and he’s been involved with Melville Theatre for 15 years in various capacities since first performing in Travelling North.
Also working with Stirling, Limelight and Old Mill Theatres, Hansen won the Finley Award for best play in 2010 after directing The Return.
He directed the controversial The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? and world premiere of Someone Called Rob, as well as appearing in Life After George.
“I had such a great time when I directed Don's Party I swooped on the chance to direct the sequel when the rights became available,” Hansen said.
“I’ve always enjoyed David Williamson's work and this is more of the same.”
Don Parties On plays at 8pm, February 21, 22, 27, 28, March 1, 6, 7 and 8 with a 2pm matinee March 2. Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on 9330 4565 or at www.meltheco.org.au/Bookings.html.
Please note: the play features some coarse language.
Melville Theatre is on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.
dpo1. Val Henry, left, Ellie Bawden, Neal Lucanus and Tom Rees are appearing in Don Parties On, a sequel to Don’s Party, set 40 years later during the 2010 Gillard v Abbott election.
dpo2: Ted Bull, left, as Mal and Tom Rees as Don in David Williamson’s Don Parties On.
dpo3: Rosalba Verrucci, left, as Helen and Kim Taylor as Cooley in Don Parties On.
dpo-director: Director Jeffrey Hansen, centre, takes actors Tom Rees and Val Henry through a scene in Don Parties On.
The Melville Theatre Company was the brainchild of David J. Burton who, in 1982, called a meeting for interested people in the community to form a theatre company in the Melville area.
As a result, the Melville Theatre Company was born. The newly formed company's first production was the farce, Not Now Darling. With its second production, The Sound of Music, the young company won the Finley Award for the Best Production of the Year in Community Theatre. Since then, actors and directors have consistently featured in the list of awards at the annual State Drama Festival, now known as Dramafest.
Initially, performances were in the Melville Civic Centre but, since 1987, the venue has been the Roy Edinger Centre, on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.
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