Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 14. 1970
Three Months Gone
Three Months Gone
The erect penis, seventy years after the death of Queen Victoria, is now so common a piece of household hardware that all humour has long since been extracted from its description. Much of the wit of Donald Howarth's Three Months Gone now on at Downstage relies on the ordinary description of ordinary sexual enterprise, and while this is sometime vital to the examination of Alvin Hanker, the 'before' model for Charles Atlas and one of the have-nots in the sex game, it is banal and boring to anyone with first—hand knowledge of the physiology of intercourse. Three Months Gone is by no means one of the best scripts Downstage has presented, but its mixture of fact and fantasy achieve an unusual vividness in elaborating the fears and hopes of a young man and his reluctant sleeping partner. Alvin Hanker is eager for sexual knowledge but is intimidated by the popularity and skill of his mother who accommadates short-stay construction workers. Anna Bowers is the daughter of a parson and also eager, but for a man as virile and experienced as she imagines her deckhand brother will be. The expected return of her brother emphasises the inadequacies of both Anna and Alvin, and it is their fantasy world of hope and experience that provides the excitement of the play. I will not try to unravel the fantasy from the reality of the worlds of Anita and Alvin, for the mixture becomes a spinning jumble of desire and sad reality, until the end of the play when a sudden slowing down of the production lets the audience sort out what actually happened in the physical lives of the two misfits, and what occurred only in the more exciting reality of imagination. The cast made a heroic effort with a script which was at times dull but in the second act brightened into lusty wit which kept the audience interested and laughing. Anna Bowers was played superbly by Jean Howell who captured all the pent up longings of a parson's daughter with the bitterness of realisation that Adonis is dead. Special mention for Jeanette Lewis who played Alvin's domineering mother (but fond of a nice bit of man herself). As blowsy landlady she is responsible for some of the best laughs in the show. She managed to convince as an uneducted pleasure lover even while delivering lines as sophisticated as: "The reality of sexual encounter gives my imagination a rest." Three Months Gone can fairly be described as a rollicking exchange of lusty humour which manages to convey a very real longing on the part of an ordinary man who has invented a world in which he is virile and confident. Nola Miller and Raymond Boyce present an evening at Downstage which at worst is interesting, and at best full of gutsy mirth. I remained unmoved by most of the jokes, but was in a minority of one. Perhaps I didn't have enough wine, but plays are written for audiences, not critics. The large first-night house certainly voted in favour of a successful season.