Sydney Fringe: Sunday in the Park with George

Margaret Helman
13th Sep 2017

Sydney Fringe is to be congratulated for supporting the new Sydney independent theatre company Little Triangle with their inaugural performance Sunday in the Park with George. 

The Pulitzer-prizewinning musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and the book by James Lapine is a triumphant and challenging theatre piece.  The Little Triangle company - on a stretched budget, set inside a small black box - The Depot - delivered a commanding performance.

I saw the premier performance of this work on Broadway in 1984 - with a full orchestra, highly technical stage genius that brought the house to their feet and accompanied by the best of the best of music theatre performers of the era.  It was a magic night in the theatre - unforgettable right to this day.  And so was the performance by Little Theatre.

Stephen Sondheim's complex score for full orchestra was reduced to two musicians - cello (Conrad Hamill) and piano (Alexander Mau) and yet nothing was lost of the power of the music.  The sixteen singers were in perfect voice and they skilfully and passionately played out the emotions of the evocative storyline. The leads Owen Elsley (George) and Georgina Walker (Dot) held a perfect interpretation of their characters and their relationship was palpable. Their voices were superb. Under Alexander Andrews' fine direction  (note that name) a spell was woven on the stage and the magic held us in suspense.

The story line for Sunday was inspired by a painting by the French pointillist painter George Seurat (1886) "A Sunday on the island of La Grand Jatte' in the Seine river.

Although Seurat was considered an impressionist, the form of the work presents like an evocative stage set.  It is not surprising that when James Lapine first saw it he declared to Stephen Sondheim that 'the only person who was missing was the artist'.  Those words gave birth to the visceral creation of a musical work.

Follow Little Triangle.  I don't think their role will be 'little' any time soon.

Little Triangle's production of Sunday in the Park with George is on at Marrickville's Depot Theatre until Saturday September 16th.