Space Theatre, Fri 12 Jun
In Looking For Lawson composer John Thorn has set some of Henry Lawson’s most loved poems to music. As a concept there is a lot to love about this: Lawson’s poetry is moving, diverse, emotional, funny, relevant and most of all, iconic. Thorn’s compositions are well matched with the words and bring the stories to life, imbuing them with emotion that can’t be accessed just from reading the page.
Some of the many highlights were Faces in the Street which Lawson wrote in 1888, The Shame of Going Back, Mary Called Him Mister, Reedy River, Do You Think That I Do Not Know and Past Carin’. Emily Taheny’s voice is clear, pure and well suited to many of the songs, but it was Lindsay Field who displayed all earmarks of a confident, seasoned performer. When he hit the low notes it was easy to imagine him stealing the show, in fact I wanted him to be Lawson: Field is more than capable of embodying Lawson the bloke, the poet and the alcoholic, as well as singing his poetry.
Field and Taheny are wonderful singers (Thorn’s singing reminded me that he is an excellent composer) and as individual entities, the songs work well. But unfortunately the structure of the show let the music and poetry down. The three performers shared the job of telling snippets of Lawson’s life in between songs, and the narrative suffered because of the disjointed delivery. Thorn also added some asides about travelling in Lawson’s footsteps as he wrote the music that really didn’t add much to the show. All in all the storytelling was not well designed or performed and let down the terrific music and the beautiful poetry.
Looking For Lawson continues at Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, from 7pm until Sat 13 Jun.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.