Last Saturday night I was at the opening of Simon Stone/ Andrew Upton’s adaptation of Bergman’s Face to Face. On the other side of the state border, another play known as a film is opening at the Melbourne Theatre Company. This is not a comparison. To compare really would be like comparing a motorbike to a penny farthing – both have their place, purpose and era.

Many friends and ex-boyfriends have despaired at my lack of film-buffery – a side effect of being completely steeped in the development and production of new (ie original) new Australian plays – also sometimes I think it’s a lifestyle thing. Jonathan Chissick (film marketing guru) once said to me that cinema going is a lifestyle choice, and I would tend to agree – just as much as there are people who attend theatre – and there are those that don’t. I don’t really proclaim any great passion against film – just a preference for theatre: I am more of a sweet tooth than someone who hungers for savoury treats.

His Girl Friday – main stage opening at Melbourne Theatre Company – I was Cameron Woodhead’s date, he’s a delightful man, and obliged my curiosity very gracefully at the what and hows of the MTC. The show boasting a bold and accomplished cast of loveable theatre celebrities – a small army of them in a splendid venue The Arts Centre.

This is John Guare’s play which has mixed the original play The Front Page with the 1930s film His Girl Friday. Directed by Aidan Fennessy (who I know for his playwriting) and staring the impressive talents of Pamela Rabe and Philip Quast. There is no doubting the skill and experience of the cast – I for one would stop eating pastry for a month if It guaranteed I could see John Leary in every play I see. There is no doubting the beautiful and detailed set and costume design by Tracy Grant Lord. Ticks a lot of boxes.

I also don’t deny the satisfaction of seeing an epic production – nor the delight that comes with a well tangled farce – where the delight comes in the mess and the near-miss. For me though I found the overall pace a little soggy and quite drawn out… I found the characters with much drive, but not much passion – which is really my preference in a Romantic farce that passion has to be real and sexual energy undeniable (I think of Hepburn and Tracey). And so after much silent shifting in my seat, the question for me becomes one of artform – why theatre? Why not maintain this as a film? Why not let this 1930s Chicago story live and breathe in a 1930s American film. Why here? Why now?

Australia has been handling a crisis of it’s media – jobs have been lost or downsized, pay walls erected – the idea of news selling newspapers – controversy and outrage always attract interest. We, the public, also self-referentially fed on the dramatics of the politics of the paper… But His Girl Friday has more to say about the tensions between love and career, between ambition and sacrifice than any nod towards local issues.

And that’s fine.

I’m sure many will enjoy the delightful spectacle of the show but alas I found myself a little bored, and my mind wandered in an out of the play… yearning for the Australian accents prevalent in the post-show foyer.

(Predictable, aren’t I, Mr Woodhead?)