"It is a rare treat for a reviewer to become so absorbed in a production that the taking of notes becomes secondary to the experience. Lilies greeted with a hugely deserved standing ovation on opening night is one of those rare treats. Set in Canada in 1912 this layered production of Michel Marc Bouchard's play, must be the finest yet from Director Joseph C Walsh. Nothing can overcome flaws in casting and here Walsh has shown the utmost care and skill. This ensemble of nine men of varying ages is truly a team of quality.
We are in a small town full of boredom, religious zealots, small minds and curious adolescents. A group of wrongfully convicted prisoners lure a Bishops to their prison and by re-enacting the life of St Sebastien unfold the true tragedy of lies, deceit, jealousy and passion that drove these youths to life changing actions that remain long hidden. Vallier (David England) drives the youthful love of the plot with an angelic openness and determination to have his lover Simon (Dale Page) be true to his heart. Cross gender roles are a delight in this production with Matt Ian Kelly truly shining as the Countess and Ian Hallard's Lydie-Anne a powerhouse of deception and passion.
The ensemble work is seamless and the pace tight and riveting. What is clear is that everyone understands this plot. The characters and their background stories are all well written and emerge in a totally sensible manner to engross the audience with intrigue, gossip, vindictiveness and concealment. The strong link between love, denied love and religious fervour ferments throughout the plot and ends with fire and brimstone in explosive consequences. The unsung hero of the piece where the pretty youths are lily white is the blackness of the sneak Bilodeau and in this role both younger and older performances from Simon Donovan and John Sears (Bishop) shine, but it is Donovan's mastery of lurking in the shadows and driving forward the self righteous zeal of the spurned friend that lies at the core of the success of this fine production. Lilies runs until Saturday at the Teachers' Club. It must rank as one of the all time festival hits and should not be missed."
International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival - 8 May 2012
Wild Oats Productions also staged the UK premiere of Lilies in 2007.
"If I suggest that the play-within-a-play-within-a-play structure is like the layered skins of an onion it would not do it justice as the intelligence of this play goes far beyond its assembly. By definition all the parts are played by men and true to the limited resources that would have been available to the prisoners, the costumes and props are simple but effective - they are in their prison uniforms with the addition of a hat, or at most an old curtain as a skirt. There are no pantomime dames or drag acts, here there is acting of such subtlety that you stop noticing that the women are played by men, whilst at the same time being constantly reminded of it because the emotional entanglement that drives the action is between boys.
Director Joseph Walsh shows a sensitive understanding of the piece and the acting of the principals is thoughtful and moving. Short musical backdrops, composed by Alexander Rudd, complement the piece and contribute to the atmosphere whilst lighting changes are so in-keeping as to be imperceptible.
Lilies is a thoroughly engaging piece of theatre. But it is more than that - this play is real brain food. In fact it's a feast. Go see, or go hungry!"
The British Theatre Guide - 2007
"...as delicate and shimmering as an impressionist painting..."
The Stage - 2007
"...an evening of engaging and committed theatre, which lacks all pretension and swagger, and is just good, clean acting... This is not easy subject matter; in the course of the play there is cross-dressing, full frontal nudity, a same sex kiss, and a live burial. But the cast handles each of these hurdles with sensitivity and intelligence. It is the standard of the acting that really sets Lilies apart...
It takes guts to put on a play like this: with no elaborate sets, or expensive pyrotechnics to hide behind, just a complex script, and committed, intelligent acting."
Curtain Rising Magazine - 2007
Copyright © 2012 Wild Oats Productions