‘Measure of a Moment’: La Mama immerses us in 1890s Melbourne

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‘Measure of a Moment’: La Mama immerses us in 1890s Melbourne

Measure of a Moment
Review by James Robertson

Immersing the viewer into an oft forgotten chapter in the history of our city, 'Measure of a Moment' evokes the era of Melbourne in 1890s to frame a touching story of love and friendship.

Written by Charles Mercovich, having previously presented the play through a reading at La Mama in 2019, and directed by Robert Johnson, the play enlists a wonderful team of creatives that bring the well-researched time period to life.

Starring Jordan Chodziesner as Connor, a young banker from Melbourne who is dissatisfied with his life and yearns for something more.

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He finds such a thing in his relationship with Nic, played by Asher-Griffith Jones, a somewhat of a bohemian grocer who shows Connor the wonders of life.

The play takes you on a journey of friendship between these two men, separated by unfortunate circumstances, distance and trivialities, whisking the viewer around from the recession that hit Australia in the 1890s to the hills of the countryside outside of Adelaide.

From the outset, the audience is immersed in this past world, with a guiding hand from music. As you enter the La Mama Courthouse Theatre, the actors sit about on crates and suitcases, warmly singing along to acoustic guitar renditions of songs by Chris Isaak, the Smiths and more.

Apart from being a lovely nod that set the audience at ease as they heard all-so familiar songs, the use of music in this way planted the Melbourne of the past firmly in the Melbourne of present as though they really aren’t too dissimilar. 

Surrounding the actors space is one of the highlights of the show: the set. Designed by Riley Tapp, corrugated iron roofing and aged wooden beams criss-cross together to form a striking backdrop. The little details really bring it to life, like the old newspaper and dust creeping out of the wood panelling, and the hardback books that are stacked along the shelving.

The costumes and props were all wonderfully executed: period-appropriate and stunning to look at. Such attention to the details of what the audience sees is a major highlight of this show.  

Measure of a Moment touches on its themes of suicide and depression with great sensitivity, and, at times, an immense sense of hope and light. Mercovich’s script oozes warmth, even in its darkest moments which are still carried off with beautiful humanity from each and every actor.

A play that spans across our city’s history, Measure of a Moment is a timeless piece of theatre.