national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, September 27, 2012


(Review of the production at the 2012 Witness Hilton Art Festival by Margaret von Klemperer, courtesy of The Witness)

Callum’s Will is a small piece of theatre – it is short and the dialogue is minimal with much of the action taking place in the silences between the characters. To make that work, the performances have to be intensely focussed and actions often have to take the place of words.

Janna Ramos-Violante, who wrote the play and directs it, gets the most out of her two performers to achieve that goal. Darren King plays Callum, a middle-aged man who was once a successful ballet dancer until a car accident left him in a wheelchair. He is bitter, and angry at the world, unwilling to reach out. It must have been a moving role for King to play – a few years ago, following an accident, he was facing a similar future, but fortunately for both himself and the theatre-going public, he made a complete recovery. 

Callum employs Will, an unemployed youth, to run errands for him on a part-time basis. At the outset, their relationship appears doomed: Will’s lively and seemingly casual attitude to life is in direct contrast to Callum’s obsessive and often secretive one.

But over time – the action spans six months in under an hour of stage time, divided into short scenes in Callum’s flat where almost the only decoration is a collection of photographs of him in his dancing prime – the two men become close. Will, beneath the surface, is a sensitive young man, with ambitions to better his lot while Callum, when he can let himself go, is both caring and generous.

Silence is important in this piece. What is unsaid is often more important than words that are actually spoken. The slightly ambiguous ending leaves the audience with a lot to ponder, and it is a tribute to both writing and performances that Friday’s schools’ audience seemed both absorbed and moved. - Margaret von Klemperer