Charles Mercovich’s research revealed many of the social issues of today are similar to those of the 1890s, the setting for his play Measure of a Moment.
As a result many of the issues raised in his play, which has just premiered at Melbourne’s La Mama theatre, are familiar. These issues include the impact of suicide, a gambling addiction, poverty and women’s rights.
Measure of a Moment explores the lives and relationships of best friends Nic (Asher Griffith-Jones) and Connor (Jordan Chodziesner). When they meet they are both unhappy with life. Nic is working in a bank, a job he finds soul destroying. His passion is to write and follow a bohemian lifestyle. Connor, who is working in a grocer’s shop, has a great love of music and is equally unfulfilled.
The play follows their friendship and often fraught individual journeys which include Nic becoming a gambling addict and Connor marrying and moving to a property in outback South Australia, with tragic results.
Through their journey we learn something of Melbourne’s social scene in the 1890s and some of the major events of the time including a major economic downturn which left many destitute.
As Mercovich explains “I discovered a remarkable number of similarities between the era of Marvellous Melbourne and our own including enduring landmarks, patterns of economic boom and bust, corrupt institutions and the challenge of being an individual.”
The pair’s story is told through words and music with the play featuring an original score performed on acoustic guitar.
Both Griffith-Jones and Chodziesner give strong and believable performances with Chodziesner also showing his musical talents.
They are well supported by Carissa McPherson, Darren Mort, Liliana Dalton, Claire Duncan, Abigail Pettigrew and Luke Toniolo who play numerous roles representing key people in Nic and Connor’s lives.
Given the nature of the storyline, Measure of a Moment is often challenging to watch, although there are a few lighter moments. At the same time it provides an opportunity to reflect on how much or how little our society has changed over the years.
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Measure of a Moment as a guest of the producers.
*Photo credit: Cameron Grant.
- reviews, stage productions
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