Queensland Theatre Company’s production of Travelling North successfully combines the comedy and pathos that is intrinsic to David Williamson's play. Bruce Myles’ simple staging focuses the audience’s attention on what is fundamental to this production - the characters and their relationships. The way the stage is divided enables the cast to move quickly from one set to another, this allows the story to gather momentum as the scenes flow into each other. Only very occasionally does the stage become dark for effect. The division of the stage also allows the audience to experience scenes taking place at the same time. Myles allows the audience to observe characters not involved in the main action of the scene and is able to then contrast the emotions of the characters. The presence of these characters on stage seems to serve as a reminder that their lives will be affected by the conversations and events of the scene and that they are therefore involved in them.
The superb cast work together drawing the audience into the complexities of their characters through perfectly paced performances that allow time for the audience to appreciate the humour of the play. Terence Donovan skilfully presents Frank’s multi-faceted nature, balancing his humour and irascibility, bringing pathos to the revelation of his fear of becoming dependant upon other people and his gradual acceptance of this. Sandy Gore portrays very effectively Frances’ feelings of guilt towards those who depend on her and yet her desire to pursue her own goals. Together Donovan and Gore beautifully present the highs and lows of Frank and Frances’ relationship. Kate Cole brings out the vulnerability of Helen as well as her demanding nature, making her more sympathetic to the audience. Shelly Lauman, as Sophie, reveals the struggle within her character to achieve her goals demonstrating also her closeness to her mother. Elizabeth Slattery’s Joan portrays her close relationship with her father as well as her desire for him to recognise his faults. Ross Thompson provides plenty of humour as Freddie whilst demonstrating poignantly his close bond with Frank and Frances and his own need for companionship. Lewis Fiander as the doctor combines humour and world-weariness as he conveys his close but sometimes fraught relationship with Frank.
As the play comes to a close and the cast take their bows the enthusiastic applause echoing throughout the theatre testifies that this was a journey well worth taking.