There are only two truths when contemplating a Pentimento offering: firstly, you never know what you are walking in to and secondly, you will love the hell out of whatever you find. The Timekeeper’s Opus fulfills both these predictions providing an extra special element unavailable at the usual Svenson fare.
An eleventh-hour creation to replace the planned showing of musical Raconteurs & Balladeers for the Anywhere Theatre Festival, after two key cast members were suddenly unavailable, the two-odd hours of collected musical numbers from Svenson’s forty-year writing career, in particular, The Sundial Plays had an air of casual-yet-polished cabaret.
Set in the back-room of the Toowong bowls club, the setting was intimate to the extreme which proved serendipitous as it gifted up-close-and-personal time with our charming host. Svenson, who has played some memorably terrifying characters (I still have nightmares about Edge from Angel Gear), is an absolute delight as he talks to the tiny gathering through his play-list and the intricacies of the Sundial Slate while he casually banters with his as-adoring cast. The young talent gathered (some of them fresh to the team for this show) are visibly in awe of their mentor and it’s wonderful to see them together in their own skin.
The tunes rolled out in non-chronological order, each introduced by a member of the ensemble giving background on the show it hails from and who wrote the lyrics (Sven) and music variously by Svenson, John Rogers, Susan Hawkins, Phil Slade, Peter Crees, Will Hughes and Colin Webber and an in-joke around who wrote the chords. The few numbers rolled out from the cancelled Raconteurs proved to be masterful teasers (aching to to see the show) including a tear-jerking performance by Anthony De Marco (resplendent in his kinky-boots) that showcased not only the depth of the upcoming show but De Marco’s ability to alternatively titillate and tear-apart a crowd.
Noteworthy performance also came from the honey-voiced Jessica Kate Ryan and a golden moment of unscripted comedy with fellow crooner and fast-witted Geena Schwartz – impossible to re-stage so a keepsake for opening-night audiences.
Pentimento stalwart and Timekeeper’s Producer James Trigg (who along with Tom McCosker were the remaining cast of the Raconteurs show) bravely debuted their song-voices and Trigg especially entertained the crowed with his part in the boy’s chorus ‘Muscle for the Tussle’, hamming it up for the heavy-breathing gathering (my girlfriend will never be the same).
Spanning jazz, rap, rock and everything in between, The Timekeeper’s Opus includes songs from both produced and yet-to-be staged works from The Sundial Plays, including: The Truth About Kookaburras, Road to the She-Devils Salon, The Sirens Kiss, Wire Dancers Waltz, Raconteurs and Balladeers, Heavenly Bodies, Beautiful Souls, Under The God Tree, Daredevil’s Moon, Angel Gear, Dangerfield Park, and Tiptoe. A wonderful treat for Svenson fans but a great introduction for those yet to discover the genius of the Matilda winning ‘Bard of Brisbane’ and his collective of wonderful, talented performers. A legacy that will no doubt live on in the legend of Brisbane Theatre.
The Season finishes on May 20 so get on down to the Toowong Bowls Club and see a superb plan-B performance from an A-grade collective.