The premise for “The Violet Hour” is that in 1919, a fledgling publisher John Pace Seavering has two manuscripts, but lacks the funds to publish both. The difficult choice he faces is further complicated by the arrival of a machine which magically prints books from the future, including ones which deal with his life.
With such a premise, the notion of a clear and consistent narrative goes out the window. This was a play about the mind and notions of reality posing the underlying question “if you knew what would happen in the future, would you make different choices?”.
I found the first half of the play intriguing, but also a little annoying as it sometime descended into pretentiousness. In dealing with the intellect, the play sometimes forgets the humanity of the characters. By the second half, however, this was corrected. There was also a particularly funny exchange about modern academia. There was only one occasion where I lost interest. By the end, however, I was satisfied and thought it was a good theatre experience.
The production I saw was at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney and featured Thomas Campbell, Genevieve Davis, Genevieve O’Reilly, Nicholas Papademetriou and Mark Priestley. I thought most of the cast were very good and dealt with the highly wordy script really well. Priestly, in particular, as the publisher and Papademetriou as his sidekick were good, and were able to combine the humour and intellect of their characters well.