Fringe Box



‘On Golden Pond’ – Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 6 Mar, 2012
Updated on: 20 Mar, 2012

by The Stage Dragon

On Golden Pond is most famous for its film adaptation, which won a trio of Oscars in 1982. But it did stand alone as a successful Broadway play first. Jane Fonda bought the film rights to the script, and the father-daughter reunion of the play was famed as an echo of Jane ‘s real-life reconciliation with her father, Henry.

This production is produced, directed and designed by Michael Lunney, who provides a thoroughly visual and evocative setting, for the backdrop of Golden Pond.

In the play, we witness the return of the retired Thayers to Golden Pond, their annual summer retreat. However, this year their mundane tranquility will be punctuated by the return of their long-absent daughter, Chelsea, and an introduction to her new fiancé, Bill Ray and his teenage son, naturally called Billy Ray Jnr. It’s North-Eastern USA, in the 70s, in the wooded, “bear” country of summer camps and fishing; the women are all “old poops”, and the men are all “Somebody Jnr”.

Set in its original, late 70s period, much of the play’s tone, and its many moments of comedy, fit comfortably within the realm of a more innocent, bygone sit-com era. Yet, it is perhaps most enjoyable in its more acerbic one-liners, which the script reserves for Norman, and which Richard Johnson acts with subtle mastery.

The Thayers - Richard Johnson & Stephanie Powers in On Golden Pond

Such is the rapport between Ethel (Stephanie Powers) and Norman (Richard Johnson), that we feel genuine intruders in the quiet intimacy of their retirement. It is only the script’s limitation that Ethel is not given greater focus; but Stephanie Powers delivers the part with genuine warmth and sincerity.

The main failing of the play is that the story almost begins too early, and the opening act seems to drag beyond the usual allotted time for story set-up. There is little in the way of classical plot, or high stakes. But, once the play does get going, there is some purpose, and the family’s resolution can be found.

On Golden Pond runs until Saturday 10 March

Click here to visit Yvonne Arnaud website – Yvonne Arnaud Box Office 01483 440000

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