Tucked away in the heart of Rockland is the little known Langham Court Theatre. This month the small theatre house is presenting a reproduction of Terry Johnson’s The Graduate; a story that has seen nearly every corner of the performance medium.
Originally a novel by Charles Webb, the book was adapted for the screen in 1967 and starred a young Dustin Hoffman. Later, the play adaptation was written by Johnson and released on Broadway in 2002. It is being directed here in Victoria by Judy Treloar.
The story follows a young Benjamin Braddock (Montgomery Bjornson), who has recently completed his undergraduate degree with honours. Though Benjamin excels at everything he does, he has fallen into a state of melancholy as the play opens up. At a graduation party his parents hold for him, Benjamin is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Odile Nelson), a longtime friend of the family and wife to Benjamin’s father’s business partner. As Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson’s intimate relationship progresses, Benjamin suddenly finds himself falling in love with Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine (Keeley Teuber).
Like many references, I knew the line but didn’t know the story. So, I was excited when I found out that this play was the origin of, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.” The Langham court presents a collection of local art in their cozy lobby at the beginning of the performance. Thirty-one local artists banded together to create a series of pieces inspired by the Langham Court, and Terry Johnson’s work. It was only after I had perused around the carpeted lobby room and viewed a painting of the iconic seduction scene that I made the connection to the reference.
The theatre chose a minimalistic approach for their stage, containing only two doors, a moving foam bed, and occasionally a chair; however, the actors worked beautifully with the surroundings they were given. The few pieces of furniture that were present moved freely to effectively transition between scenes. Projected images and the iconic Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack also aided in the scene breaks. The chemistry between Robinson and Benjamin was believable, yet humorous at times. The actors suited their characters extremely well, both quick witted and charmingly arrogant, Benjamin even kept his tell-tale line from the movie; his flatly delivered, “Oh my God.”
Though Johnson’s script has faced some criticism for veering too far form the original story, the play contains scenes form the book that the movie does not. Though both the movie and play start with the same scene, Benjamin lying on his bed in a wetsuit, Johnson took some liberties in adapting parts of the story that were not originally present. Still, Treloar’s production was fantastically done in its delivery, physical humour and use of a stage space.
The Langham’s showing of The Graduate ended on March 22; however, next up in the theatre’s productions is Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopaid, which runs from April 24 to May 10.