There was a magical atmosphere at the Eltham Pub this weekend: something special was afoot. The character-filled building and grounds where the NORPA performance Love for One Night is staged were illuminated and buzzing. As part of the wonderful production design the audience bought drinks and ordered food pre-show inside the pub, which was actually part of the set during the show, with pub staff becoming natural background actors throughout the play.
It was a sold-out show on Saturday, and most of the audience elected to have a meal and a few drinks at the pub before the play. This really put the pressure on the bar staff and the kitchen but, even so, the whole experience was very smooth and enjoyable.
A large tier of seating had been set up directly in front of the face of the grand old pub and the audience entered the space to a grooving riff from the stage band. Many facets of this grand site-specific stage were utilised: the upper storey balcony; the bar; the front beer garden and internal rooms where, at times, scenes were live-projected onto the exterior on large screens. Videography was also utilised on occasion for a sense of intimacy – in one scene the camera operator, beer in hand, casually filmed a character by posing as a pub punter with a sympathetic ear.
Love for One Night tells stories derived from the local area, developed from accounts and interviews gathered from the community around the Northern Rivers. Utilising humour, dance, song and story, a series of interlaced love experiences from romance, maternal, friendship, passion and compassion are portrayed. Some of the characters include a woman from Lismore who fell in love with the cleaner who was her saviour during the flood. And, a story that some audience members had heard before – the bloke whose wife left him for the local cult. And, of course, the story of two men falling for the same woman.
Love for One Night talks to our community, it comments on our experiences as a collective and the universal theme of love in its myriad expressions.
This is an exciting and unique performance experience, one in which you, as the audience, are part of on the night by buying a drink at the same bar that the characters stand and by being part of the community from which these stories arose. This should not be missed. Take the opportunity before 24 September to have a meal there and see this wonderful show.