On Wednesday 6 June, the City of Boroondara Library Service hosted a solo play titled Playing Miss Havisham. It was held at Kew Library.
Written by Helen Moulder and Sue Rider, in 2010 Helen showcased Playing Miss Havisham in the UK, France and USA; in the middle of this year she is touring Australia with the play as part of celebrations for Charles Dickens' 200th birthday. Helen is a member of Willow Productions, a small company based in New Zealand.
Playing Miss Havisham is about Claudia, a woman who learns to weigh up her expectations. When an eccentric Irish film-maker arrives to make a film of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, Claudia is keen to audition for the role of Miss Havisham as she sees it as a way out of her humdrum existence. As she prepares for the role, Claudia finds her own life takes on the twists and turns of a Dickens novel. She is forced to examine her relationships and expectations of life as things change, sometimes dramatically, around her.
This was an inventive piece of theatre. A thoughtful engagement with a literary classic, there was a weaving of themes dealing with the complexities and frustrations of modern life and consideration of the human condition. The perspectives and actions of a number of characters were played out.
A mature, professional singer and actor, Helen Moulder has been working in theatre, radio and film in the UK, New Zealand and Australia for 37 years. As people were leaving, there were many comments about her considerable skill and versatility as she drew us into Claudia's (and Miss Havisham's) world. The play had a fine balance of comedy, quirkiness, gravity and wistfulness, and the audience's attention (and moments of interaction) suggested a quiet recognition of Claudia's options and expectations and identification with the final possibilities that presented themselves.
In the National Year of Reading, and to mark the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, this was a unique event in our programme which was extremely well-received.