Sunday in the Park with George @ C
"Work is what you do for others, art is what you do for yourself"
George is obsessed with painting. So obsessed in fact that he has little time or attention to give to anything else, including the woman who loves him the most, Dot.
Every Sunday he's there painting in the park, despite the advice of close friends that he needs to take a break once in a while to allow his talent and perception time to rest and grow.
So workaholic meets girl, workaholic alienates girl, girl gets someone else whose more attentive but still pines over her true love the workaholic, workaholic suddenly realises what girl really meant to him but there is no cheesy resolution to this situation. Dot emmigrates to America with her new husband. Workaholic is unable to express his feelings.
Robert Dalton playes George as brash as can be, he has a wonderful tenor voice that is both warm and piercing. Dot (Ruthie Luff) can deliver a line with so much of a subtle hurt feeling that a whirlwind of context underlies.
The production values are excellent, director Phillip Howard makes an excellent use of space in what is a busy show with a large cast, and the music is carefully conducted. The score fluctuates between disjointed rat-tat-tattling accompaniments of intensity and smooth and melodious lines that bend the heart - the piece could have benefitted from a more crowd-pleasing song somewhere in the first twenty minutes (but perhaps that would have gone against the independent artistic spirit of the protagonist.)
On the whole Sunday... is not a particularly successfully written show. It deals interestingly with some aesthetic questions such as should one paint purely for themselves or keep buyers in mind, but there's just not enough to edify an emotional investment in the plot. We get the sense that (like in all of Lapine and Sondheim's collaborations) they were trying to do something original and less square than what was the broadway norm and sadly, in this case, fell short of the mark.
However, there are some moments of real insight there which give a strong feeling that there was a greater show trying to break out, in a great moment George expresses in song the importance of precision and dedication in Finishing the Hat - you create something where there was nothing - he laments the fact that Dot will never understand.
Perhaps Sunday, in its essence, is a piece written by very creative people as a projection of their own love of creativity, and an expression of the expense that love often comes at. Sadly that motivating passion does not always manage to ignite the same fire within the onlooker.
C, 3 -26 aug 2011, 3.35pmhttp://www.rsamd.ac.uk/