In less than two weeks’ time, Australian actor, writer, director, musician and MC Martin Ashley Jones will see the first play he’s written, Is it time, begin its world premiere season at Newtown’s King Street Theatre.
Described as “an extraordinary love story that will stand the test of family and time”, Is it time (deliberately omitting a question mark) is about Eva and Jim Rogers, a couple who share a kind of love that only they understand. It poses the question, does ‘till death do us part’ really mean the end? When death comes calling, who decides… is it time?
According to Jones, it’s a play he began writing almost 30 years ago.
“Over the years I really did want to finish the play but whenever I started I felt I was forcing myself to do it,” Jones has said of the process.
“Then over a few rainy days in London in 2010 I started tapping away and Jim and Eva’s story just fell on to the page. There have been a few read-throughs and amendments since then but the essence of this love story has not changed”.
So, more specifically, what is the play about?
“It is essentially an incredible, amazing love story between a husband and wife – a love that has spanned 50 years,” says Sylvia White, who plays the lead role of Eva Rogers.
“It’s also a story about family and the bonds and the struggles and arguments that can bring family closest or tear them apart. But essentially it’s a love story.”
Denise Kitching, who plays the role of Jessie, adds: “Is it time is a play about a group of people who are living in a retirement home and who are having to deal with the day to day challenges of the aging process. Loving relationships are at the forefront of this play, showing the need for people to be allowed to live their lives in the manner that they want.”
Is it time will be directed by King Street Theatre’s resident director, Barry Walsh. Alongside White and Kitching, the cast includes Ross Scott, David Luke, Sarah Plummer, and Lauren Jones.
White tells Theatre People that she’s honoured to be involved in the world premiere of Jones’ work.
“I get to bring Eva to life. I get to give this woman a voice, her look, her emotions along with help of my director Barry Walsh who, so far, pretty much lets us do our own creative interpretation of Martin’s amazing words,” says White.
Kitching is similarly excited about this opportunity.
“My role as Jessie, and the chance to interpret her for the first time, is one in which I hope I will be able to bring to life and share with the audience a truly interesting role. I witnessed my parent’s love and affection for each other right to the end, and the challenges they faced with aging were tough,” Kitching says.
“The most enjoyable aspect so far is immersing myself in the text, and looking for the meanings that can come from it.”
White reports a very positive experience to date of the rehearsal period.
“The whole process is wonderful,” she says. “That’s why I do it. I love the theatre – the smell, the sound, the audience right in front of you, no editing or music overlays, only you, your fellow cast members and the words.“
So what specifically about Is it time do White and Kitching think audiences will enjoy?
“I hope they might relate parts of it to their lives and perhaps rethink old thoughts or get a different perspective on the issues raised in the play,” White says.
“I hope they love it, applaud loudly, leave the theatre discussing it and tell their friends to come and see it.”
“I think the audience will love the humour and the truthfulness that Martin Ashley Jones brings to the characters and the play itself,” says Kitching.
“He is not afraid to take off the filters and let the characters do their job.”
Where: King Street Theatre – 644 King St & Cnr Bray St, Newtown (entrance on Bray St, Above the South End Café)
Date: 25 May – 5 June, 2016
Tickets: $35/ $30/ $27 – groups 10+
Preview night – 25 May & Sunday Matinees – ALL TICKETS $25
Time: Tuesday – Saturday @ 7:30pm Sundays @ 5pm
Bookings: www.kingstreettheatre.com.au or https://trybooking.com/LGUY