Theatre Tours International Ltd
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Guy Masterson - Theatre Tours International
in association with Allee Way Productions (AUS)

A SOLITARY CHOICE by Sheila Duncan

Written by Sheila Duncan

Performed by Tamara Lee

Directed by Michael Allen

European Premiere: Assembly Rooms Edinburgh 2010

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Reviews

When you've already gone beyond doing the right thing, what choices have you got?

The wild-girl-woman awakens within her suit-clad veneer of straight lace and, from a single spontaneous action and facing unexpected pregnancy, she re-charts her life's course. But is she actually 'doing the right thing'?

Adelaide star Tamara Lee astounds from the first seed of dissatisfaction through to the heartrending, spellbinding conclusion, baring every nuance, emotion, doubt and turmoil in this highly acclaimed, fiercely gripping, satisfying banquet.

It may be a familiar scenario borne of domestic turmoil, Edinburgh native and Australian emigre, Sheila Duncan's coruscating yet poetic approach renders A Solitary Choice a tour de force. Now, having accumulated a clutch of local awards it certainly deserved this international outing.

A SOLITARY CHOICE Reviews

FRINGEREVIEW.COM 12/08/10
A story of the choice a woman makes alone - the choice about terminating a pregnancy in a play by Sheila Duncan. Performed by Tamara Lee, and directed by Michael Allen, A Solitary Choice is writer Sheila Duncan's exploration of the trauma if terminating a pregnancy. The gameplan of life that never unravels as we would wish or predict. The inevitability of certain happenings in our life. The seduction of a flute... The territory of this play is richly landscaped with emotion, the profound yet practical questions of life. Carlos steps before her,  a married woman, and there is the temptation, the taste of flight, that so many of us realise we have lost in our wretchedly contended routines. A moment of surrender and then consequences that rip into the heart of our life stories - here is the heart of this fine piece of writing. And our central character becomes faced with a solitary choice, one only she can make.
Sheila Duncan's story play is crisply written and wholly accessible right from the word "sheep". Tamara Lee gives a strong, and very  believable performance, though was a little hesitant on script on one or two occasions.
This is also a play about the philosophy of freedom. Is choice conscious in itself? Are consequences logical alone or also retributional? Yet, as the nurse reminds her, there's always a choice...
The only colour is a light purple shirt, all else - props and set are black and grey - under white light - echoing the ultimately black and white decision about whether to terminate a pregnancy or not. And there's no linking music, unneeded light changes - we have performer and story and economic use of stagecraft  - this makes for an uncluttered, bold and simple piece of story performance. There was one exception to this, where she erupts into anger under devilish red light, and it felt unnecessary to the production.
"A little weed that has rooted in the wrong soil". This is how she describes the baby growing inside her. On the one side are the consequences both imagined positively and also fearfully, on the other there is unfolding reality pointing towards a more grounded set of outcomes.
The play contains shattering moments and yet there's also a quality that tells the tale not with moralising, but with moral force - a force which guides us, leads us by its skilfully narrating hand through what is still difficult even taboo territory for many people, even cultures. Top class writing, a highly recommended play. (Paul Levy - Fringe Review.com - 12/08/10)

THREE WEEKS 20/08/10
You can't risk your livelihood on a marriage, it's not a good investment". Tamara Lee plays a woman with an unremarkable life, content with her husband, her son and her career in loans and finance but, without warning, something remarkable throws her life off balance. Amusing, touching and poignant, this one-woman show explores real life, real passion and real fear. After a somewhat slow start, Lee captivates her audience and draws us all into her emotional salsa dance with unexpected consequences. The simple staging complements this fantastic performance, with clever lighting and multifunctional props. This is a highly recommended, thought-provoking show that lingers with you long after the curtain falls. (Three Weeks 20/08/10)

WHAT'S ON STAGE 09/08/10
On average one in three of your female friends will get an abortion, and many more will consider having one. Not that you would know it. The harrowing decision is rarely discussed outside comments of outrage about either pro-life or pro-choice campaigns.
Australian one-woman show A Solitary Choice gives a reflective and surprisingly funny take on the lonely decision that many pregnant women face when they are at their most vulnerable, and hormonal.
Tamara Lee stars as Ruth, a mother whose affair with a Bolivian panpipe player threatens to put an end to her safe domesticity and work life.
The depth of emotion is remarkable. Ruth's mood swings as she weighs up her options are completely out of character for a woman who apparently has it all. But they are always utterly believable.
Ruth rants at colleagues, dances uncontrollably in the street and eats, and eats, and eats. And all this under the penetrating dark eyes of her feisty unborn daughter.
A simple set, spot on lighting and detailed direction mean this show will linger with you for days. Fortunately in Britain and Australia there is always a choice, but it is not one anyone ever wants to have to make. (What's On Stage 09/08/10)

THEPUBLICREVIEW 09/08/10
The shoe box space of Assembly's Drawing Room and a few props set the scene for Tamara Lee's entrance as Ruth. Walking through the everyday world of the audience on to the stage she faces the most challenging decision of her life, and makes it alone. Sheila Duncan's fine piece of writing addresses an almost taboo subject, and explores the dilemma that many women face at least once in their life, to terminate or continue with an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy. The choice is often pragmatic.
"It was the sheep that started it" introduces us to Ruth. Constrained by her overly controlled bank job, her perpetual student husband and master of the put down, the domestic demands of her much loved primary age son and family cat all come alive for us in a sensitive and funny portrayal. The sound of a Bolivian flute tips Ruth into an escapist fling and the resultant pregnancy. Lee's exquisite handling of the text puts us in Ruth's shoes as her choice unfolds. Whilst Duncan consciously eschews morality issues we are left in no doubt that a life for a life is at stake here, and all the agony of choice that that entails for Ruth is expressed in Lee's portrayal.
Lee's command of the role is complete, and her delicate use of the minimalist props wholly credible. Allen's tense direction is good, the only jarring note is perhaps the staging of the foetus's vocal bid for life which is somehow out of scale with the rest of the production.
An excellent piece of work, and a compelling hour of theatre.
(The Public Reviews 09/08/10)

ONE4REVIEW 10/08/10
It has been a given over the last twelve years that we at one4review have been reviewing that anything that is under the Theatre Tours International or Guy Masterson Productions banner is always going to be a well produced, rehearsed and a quality theatrical piece, because if it wasn't then, these companies would not be involved.
A Solitary Choice is one of four full productions on offer this year and although it is about ten years old is not dated in any way. Author Sheila Duncan has written this one woman show, and the performer Tamara Lee portrays Ruth, a bank worker, wife to Christopher and mother to James seemingly a normal woman but why does she visit a fictional aunt every few months?
Seduction by Aztec flutes leads to her to meet with Carlos and what consequences follow. Issues at work, real estate agent Stella, does she stay with Christopher, should she have invested in Dot Com sites are all questions that Ruth has to make a choice over. A solitary choice. And who is the black-eyed girl?
This is an intriguing play that is well performed by Ms Lee under the direction of Michael Allen. The simple but effective set complements the production as one would expect.
Although fairly early in the run this play was well attended and I'm sure all would have been impressed as I was. (One4Review - 10/08/10)

THE STAGE - 12/08/10
On average one in three of your female friends will get an abortion, and many more will consider having one. Not that you would know it. The harrowing decision is rarely discussed outside comments of outrage about either pro-life or pro-choice campaigns.
Australian one-woman show A Solitary Choice gives a reflective and surprisingly funny take on the lonely decision that many pregnant women face when they are at their most vulnerable, and hormonal.
Tamara Lee stars as Ruth, a mother whose affair with a Bolivian panpipe player threatens to put an end to her safe domesticity and work life.
The depth of emotion is remarkable. Ruth's mood swings as she weighs up her options are completely out of character for a woman who apparently has it all. But they are always utterly believable.
Ruth rants at colleagues, dances uncontrollably in the street and eats, and eats, and eats. And all this under the penetrating dark eyes of her feisty unborn daughter.
A simple set, spot on lighting and detailed direction mean this show will linger with you for days. Fortunately in Britain and Australia there is always a choice, but it is not one anyone ever wants to have to make. (Lauren Paxman - The Stage 12/08/10)

A SOLITARY CHOICE: Biographies

Performer -Tamara Lee
Since graduating from the Centre for the Performing Arts in Adelaide Australia in 1998, Tamara has worked with Splash Theatre Company touring various shows interstate and through regional Southern Australia. She has played Ms Medlock in The Secret Garden, Ismene in Antigone, Yenne in The Truce and Jenny in Don's Party. In 2004 Adelaide Fringe Tamara worked with SULIS Theatre Company from the UK in Smashed Eggs. She has played Sybil Fawlty in The Fawlty Towers Dinner Shows. In Adelaide Fringe 2006 she played Sabine in The Most Massive Woman Wins with Chopt Logic Theatre Company which then toured to Darwin Fringe. What I Heard About Iraq at Holden Street Theatres in 2007; In 2008 performed the one-woman play A Solitary Choice also at Holden Street Theatres. In Fringe 2009 she was in Junglebean's production of Autobahn.
In film and TV: Look Both Ways, Closed for Winter, The Marriage of Figaro and McLeod's Daughters as well as taking part in various short films such as Aunty Joans Friendly Grotto, One Man's Treasure and The Luck of the Irish.

Director - Michael Allen
Michael graduated from Adelaide's Centre for the Performing Arts in 1994 and has carved a career as an adaptable, reliable and enthusiastic actor, director and producer.
An established TV and film actor, his credits include Maslin Beach, Opal Dream, McLeods Daughter's, The Boys Are Back, Last Ride and the SA feature film success of 2009 The Marriage of Figaro, along with numerous television and voice over commercials. Theatre credits include work with Magpie Theatre, Bakehouse Theatre, Holden Street Theatres, State Opera SA and Opera Australia among others. As a director Michael has created many new theatre experiences. Productions include a contemporary re-write of Dangerous Liaisons and the Australian premiere of Clive Barker's The History of The Devil. He directed the award winning A Solitary Choice in 2008 and most recently the critically acclaimed Three in the Back, Two in the Head for Bakehouse Theatre.
He is artistic director of First Time Out: New Writing for the Stage with the University of Adelaide and is General Manager of Knee High Puppeteers - giants, events and spectacles. Along with his wife Nikki ,he ran New Met Dance from 2001-09, working in schools and community centres and teaching advanced skills for emerging dance performers.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Media & Bachelor of Arts from the University of Adelaide and is currently undertaking a Masters of Philosophy in the Anthropology of Theatre.

Writer - Sheila Duncan
Born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Sheila emmigrated to Australia with her family at the age of 5. After a First Class degree in Anthropology, she moved to Paris, where she trained in French Classical Theatre. On her return to Australia she worked consistently as a professional actor in theatre, film, television and radio. Theatre credits include Vitalstatistix, State Theatre of South Australia, Cameron Macintosh's Les Miserables, ZooTango State Theatre of Tasmania, Marionette Theatre of Australia, Gary Ginovan Productions, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, SAK Theatre and The Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide. Most recently she performed the Role of Anna in Three In The Back, Two In The Head at the Bakehouse directed by Michael Allen.
As a writer, credits include Growing up a Girl, published by the Australian Association of Teachers of English; Tabula Rasa, short-listed for the George Landen Dann award (QLD); Gawn Doon, published in V An Anthology of New International Writing from Edinburgh 2007 and Umbrellas, short-listed for the Jill Blewett Festival Awards for Literature (S.A.) 2008. Feature films include A Voice for Angelo and Normal, both supported through the South Australian Film Corporation.
It has been a huge year for Sheila, with her new play Why Muriel Matters opening at the Adelaide Town Hall in June, and A Solitary Choice (published by Australian Script Centre 2008) playing this season at the Edinburgh Fringe. A Solitary Choice has also been recently translated into French for a season in Paris in 2011.
Sheila holds a Master of Science in Creative Writing from Edinburgh University.


Edinburgh 2010

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Guy Masterson - TTI
in association with

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Written by Sheila Duncan

Performed by Tamara Lee

Directed by Michael Allen

European Premiere: Assembly Rooms Edinburgh 2010

A Solitary Choice: Morecambe reviews

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A Solitary Choice: Technical

  • The show is a 60 minute solo performance with no interval.
  • The set comprises of a chair, table and bench.
  • Sound will be provided on a CD Rom opped by the in house technician.
  • The company will require a stage hand for the get in/out and a LX/SFX technician to run the show from the explicitly marked up script.
  • For further technical information please contact Theatre Tours International on 01707 330 360.

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LAST UPDATED 25/01/2015