May Pusey (1917-2005) was born in Perth to an Irish mother and Australian father. Within a strict Catholic upbringing and education, she pursued her dream of becoming an actress, debuting on ABC radio aged 14. At her Catholic school, the young Pusey performed the Charleston, marking her out as a single-minded, mildly rebellious individual. However, there is really very little drama here.
Yes, she suffered the losses and heartaches of millions of other wives and mothers of that generation and had also to endure three life-threatening miscarriages and her husband’s affair. But this is really a very personal piece of theatre on the part of Jurd, paying remembrance to a woman who became her teacher. As such it has a very narrow audience indeed.
Jurd is an accomplished actress, who traces the transition from childhood to old age well, but the structure of the play – a series of narrated letters, phone calls and prayers – drags.
Guy McEwan’s music also irritates. There are more convincing ways of conveying emotion than cliched Hollywood-style instrumentals.
Credit for bringing a heartfelt tribute to stage but only those particularly interested in Pusey’s life will be glad to have spared an hour for this.