12/07/2012 - 22/07/2012
Winkie is a man-child, a forty-year old man with serious learning difficulties who thinks and behaves like a four-year old child. His only carer is his mother, his only environment his small, safe home. Then his mother dies and Winkie’s care becomes the responsibility of his sister and her less than sympathetic fiancé.
Winkie’s story is one of love and neglect, of sacrifices made – and of cynical self-interest. A sad and illuminating, all too relevant tale for our time.
Globe Theatre, Dunedin
Thursday 12th to 22nd July 2012
Cast (in order of appearance)
Mrs Doris Walls Yvonne Jessop
Annette Walls, her daughter Stefany Frost
Wilson Scrimgeour, her fiancé Emmett Hardie
Gavin Walls, Mrs Walls’ son Chris Summers
Sharon Stark, a solicitor Millie Lovelock
Stage Manager John Campbell
Asst. Stage Managers Golda Matthias, John Belville
Set Design Nigel Ensor
Set Construction Don Knewstubb, Phill Todd, William Torr,
Helen Davies, Helen Fearnley, Ray Fleury
Set Finishing Rohana Weaver
Lighting Design and Rig Alex Ross
Lighting/Sound Operator George Wallace
Wardrobe Sofie Welvaert
Properties Christine Johnstone, Ray Fleury
Photography Sofie Welvaert
Publicity Roslyn Nijenhuis, Alex Ross
Front of House Ellie Swann
Dealing with dependence
Review by Kimberley Buchan 14th Jul 2012
Written, directed and designed by Nigel Ensor, Winkie is a slow-paced play which explores attitudes toward disability. The stresses of caring for someone completely dependent are shown through episodes that, like real family life, are centred on mealtimes.
Yvonne Jessop plays Doris Walls, whose 40 year-old son Gavin has a mental age of 4. Stuck in time caring for him, she is a proponent of providing a loving environment for Gavin instead of professional care and she is increasingly unable to handle the situation.
While his total dependence requires her total sacrifice, she is able to quip, “I see you’ve met the family secret.” Her son has endearing traits but also ones that would be extremely difficult to deal with which results in a growing frustration leading to breaking point.
The inevitability of Doris’ sudden death and strange will means that Gavin’s distant sister, Annette, and her calculating and self-serving fiancé, Wilson Scrimgeour (Emmett Hardie), are placed in a situation they would not have chosen for themselves.
Annette, played by Stefany Frost, grows in her new circumstances whereas Wilson reveals a certain ruthlessness in his valuation of money over humanity. His prejudice is divulged as soon as he enters the stage and phrases like “people like that” litter his conversation.
Annette, Doris and Wilson reveal their thought processes through soliloquies that tell the audience rather than show their motivations.
The solicitor, Sharon Stark (Millie Lovelock), is professional and clinical. In her bureaucratic role not much empathy is displayed.
Winkie is the insensitive nickname bestowed upon Gavin by his absent father. In the title role, Chris Summers, with his incongruous tattoo and eye patch, provides the best performance I have seen him produce.
The set is a ‘ghastly flat’ full of actually working appliances. There is a lot squeezed into a small space and some of the furniture is at an angle that is not always beneficial for the audience.
The pacing is impacted by the frequently empty stage and some scene changes that do not seem to be entirely necessary.
Winkie the play does not presume to provide the answers to the questions it poses. It aims to be thought provoking, as a ‘relevant tale for our time.’ The duration of the play allows a lot of time to think.
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