Sunday, June 13th, 2010
IT MAY sound like science-fiction – but the latest play at WA's Phoenix Theatre is actually about a dysfunctional family.

Written by Paul Zindel and directed by Jane Sherwood, 'The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds' focuses on a single mother, her two daughters and their abysmal status in life.

Encouraged by her teacher, daughter Tillie undertakes a gamma ray experiment with marigolds that wins her a prize, serving as a metaphor that something full of promise can emerge from the most barren environment.

Originally written in 1964, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds was made into a film by Paul Newman in 1972, featuring his wife Joanne Woodward.

Sherwood saw this film as a teenager and has wanted to do the play ever since, although has only now found the right time and venue for the production.

“The play is a wonderful piece of writing that explores family relationships,” she said. “It’s a challenge for Phoenix Theatre to create a suitable set but, set or not, we have very talented actors bringing this family to life.

“The story follows the family during the course of the science experiment – it looks at the ‘gamma ray’ effect of the mother on her two daughters, who are her ‘flowers’.”

Sherwood has a wealth of experience behind her, both on and off the stage, in London and Perth, working with Belvedere Intimate Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Arena Arts and Entertainment, A lad in sane productions (note to subs: lower case is correct) and Old Mill Theatre.

Last year, she received a score of nominations for directing The Last Waltz at the South West Drama Festival, which was named best overall production at DramaFest, the annual state festival.

While The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds has a small cast, Sherwood said the relationship between the three main characters is crucial to the development of the story.

“It will be a challenge to bring out the best in the actors but it’s one I’m sure we are all up for,” she said.

Despite the lengthy and unusual title of the play, Sherwood doesn’t believe this will present any hurdles.

“It’s extremely well-known in the US and Paul Zindel has written many other works, such as My Darling, My Hamburger, which has been on school reading lists,” she said.

“The title has always been a favourite for the game of charades and my cast and crew are finding we tend to affectionately call it Gamma Rays or just Marigolds.”

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds plays at 8pm, June 24, 25, 26, July 1, 2 and 3 with a 2pm matinee on June 27.

Tickets are $20 adults, $15 concession – book on 0450 158 851, [email protected] or through BOCS on (08) 9484 1133.

Phoenix Theatre is located on the corner of Rockingham Road and Carrington Street within the Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall in Western Australia.

gamma-main1.jpeg: Melissa Kiiveri, Cally Zanik and Carmen Miles are in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds this June.

gamma-cast1.jpeg: The cast of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds: Barbara Good, Kat Duynstee (at back), Carmen Miles, Cally Zanik and Melissa Kiiveri.

gamma-director.jpeg: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds director Jane Sherwood (back left) with her cast: Barbara Good, Kat Duynstee (at back), Carmen Miles, Cally Zanik and Melissa Kiiveri.

gamma-melissa1.jpeg: Melissa Kiiveri is Tillie in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, performing a science experiment.

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Phoenix Theatre

For many people within the Cockburn area and beyond, Phoenix Theatre provides one of the few chances to experience live theatre. We also provide an opportunity for people to learn the acting craft, as well as other aspects of the theatre world.

Phoenix Theatre’s actors, directors, committee members and technical crew receive no payment for the many hours of work they put in and are driven simply by their passion for theatre – and sharing it with the community.

Our location at Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall could not be more fitting, given it has been a focal point for community activities since it was originally built in 1925. As home to concert parties, singing, dancing and socials, Phoenix Theatre is proud to continue the tradition of entertaining people across the City of Cockburn.
Jane Sherwood
P: 0421 974 286


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