On Golden Pond opens in Potters Bar
Potters Bar Theatre Company’s production of On Golden Pond opens at the Wyllyotts Theatre tonight (Wednesday)
"What is said and, often more importantly, what is left unsaid can be really powerful. "
Classic On Golden Pond is as American as apple pie.
Hollywood legends Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn both won Oscars for their 1981 screen portrayals of Norman and Ethel Thayer, the elderly couple whose 48th summer vacation to their New England idyll is interrupted by the arrival of their daughter, her new fiancé and his son.
And the film also resonates because the daughter was played by Jane Fonda, who had bought the rights to Ernest Thompson’s play specifically so that her father could play the lead role.
Jane herself has acknowledged that the difficulties between father and daughter in the movie echoed the real life friction between her and her father.
Now the play, in its original form, is coming to Wyllyotts Theatre, courtesy of Potters Bar Theatre Company.
Director Robbie Crisp, who lives in Hawkshead Lane, Brookmans Park, explained that it is writer Thompson’s finely observed exploration of the undercurrents flowing beneath the Thayer family relationships that attracted her to On Golden Pond.
This was also the inspiration for her 2012 production of The Winslow Boy at Wyllyotts, which received great critical acclaim and subsequently picked up two awards and four nominations in that year’s Barnet and District Drama Festival.
“Family relationships have always fascinated me,” she said.
* On Golden Pond can be seen at the Wyllyotts Theatre from Wednesday, February 26 to Saturday, March 1.
* Performances are at 7.30pm, with an additional Saturday matinée at 2.30pm.
* Tickets cost £12 adults and £10 under-18s, and £10 senior citizens for the Wednesday evening and Saturday matinée.
* Call the box office on 07985 542204, post to PBTC Box Office, PO Box 154, Potters Bar, Herts, EN6 2WB (cheques made payable to ‘Potters Bar Theatre Company’ and include a stamped addressed envelope) or visit www.pottersbartheatrecompany.co.uk (booking fee applies).
“What is said and, often more importantly, what is left unsaid can be really powerful.
“Or perhaps I just like authoritative men.”
Robbie added: “There is a lot of symbolism in the play. Ostensibly the story is about Norman and Ethel, but it is also about the lake and the beautiful aquatic birds – the ‘loons’ – that live there.
“The couple watch the loons raise their new chick, then teach it to fly and be confident.
“It mirrors their own relationship with their daughter.”
Playwright Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, has never stopped tinkering with his original script.
But Robbie was keen to do the first, rather than any revised edition, and said she had to “beg, borrow and steal” books to achieve her goal.
“The stage show might not have the film’s boat wreck, a bikini-clad Jane Fonda’s back-flip into the lake or any of the other outdoor set pieces,” she said.
“But it’s a beautifully written play and deserves recognition.”
Despite their long careers in showbusiness and many common acquaintances, movie folklore has it that Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn had not only never worked together before On Golden Pond, but had not even met before filming began.
On the first day of shooting, Hepburn presented Fonda with a hat that had belonged to her long-time companion, Spencer Tracy.
It’s the one Norman wears in the movie.
On Golden Pond plays at the Wyllyotts Theatre until Saturday, March 1.