Still waters run deep in On Golden Pond at Malvern

3:27pm Tuesday 7th February 2012

By John Phillpott

A PERSON’S life may indeed form a river of memories but only still waters can really run deep.

And that seems to be the dominant metaphor in Ernest Thompson’s endearing story of a love affair that has survived as well as defied the passage of the years.

No one can remember a time when Ethel and Norman Thayer didn’t spend a summer on Golden Pond. Like migrating birds, the couple have for nearly half a century returned over and again.

But this year, their daughter and her husband have brought their teenage son along for the ride as well.

But unresolved issues span both time and distance. And it’s not long before the ghosts of vacations past prove to be the proverbial pebbles thrown into the couple’s hitherto placid millpond, causing ripples that will have far-reaching effects for all concerned.

Hollywood royalty Katharine Hepburn, Henry and Jane Fonda starred in the classic film. They are hard acts to follow, without any shadow of doubt – yet Stefanie Powers and Richard Johnson have made this charming study of love and the ageing process their very own.

At times, their relationship appears to verging on the telepathic. A certain look, the spaces in the dialogue, what is left unsaid… less can indeed be more. There are some very moving passages as they enjoy yet another summer while contemplating the looming autumn of their lives.

Tom Roberts as husband Bill Ray turns an awkward conversation about sleeping arrangements into an art form, while Elizabeth Carling as the daughter gives a superbly sensitive performance, providing a mirror-image of her mother as she probably was nearly half a century before.

The hour glass is running… gravitas as well as gravity is at work here, the opposite end of the scale being played with a belligerent coolness by Graeme Dalling as the textbook teenager with attitude.

Well worth seeing.

On Golden Pond runs until Saturday, February 11.

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