Photograph 51: The show must go on

The Basin Theatre Group's first performance of the year was Photograph 51. Picture: BASIN THEATRE GROUP.

By Lynette Hayhurst

The start of the 2022 season at The Basin Theatre Group burst forth on stage in the dramatic play Photograph 51 written by Anna Ziegler.

The play is skillfully structured with fascinating dialogue and complex characters. The play unfolds slowly on stage as the main characters set the scene for a gripping and powerful performance based on the true story of Rosalind Franklin an X-ray crystallographer in the 1950s. She is one of a number of scientists seeking to unlock the mystery of the structure of DNA.

The main character Rosalind Franklin is played by Francesca Carl, a Jewish British scientist. Even though she is a courageous and determined scientist, the audience feels the impact of her domineering personality and cutting sharp wit as it cuts into the other characters’ hearts and minds.

Her fellow colleague Maurice Wilkins a British physicist played by Daniel Minutello is both cut deeply and also outraged by Franklin but at the same time fascinated and falls in love with his nemesis. Don Casper is artfully played by Dan Barwick, a scientist who comes on the scene and there is a fascinating interaction between him and Franklin through the letters they send to one another that finally reveals to the audience the heart of a woman who has needs for love as well as success in her scientific life.

Casper has a quiet and gentle but powerful presence on stage as the relationship develops. Franklin is outfoxed by other scientists who plot and subtly steal her work and use this to ultimately gain a Nobel Prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA. Franklin in history has been called the “forgotten heroine,” for her work in this field of science of which she never gained recognition in her lifetime.

Franklin’s scientific competitor James Watson, played by Aaron Wilson, is a brash and confident American Scientist who adds a devious and also light-hearted element to the scenes with his drive for success at all costs. His fellow colleague Francis Crick is played by Ryan Nunn who works well on stage complementing his partner in crime, as both characters plot their scheme to be the first to unlock the DNA mystery.

Ray Gosling was performed well by Andrew Tomazos and received the brunt of Franklin’s cutting tongue and angry outbursts, managing to add great humour to this tragic tale.

The Basin Theatre Group is composed entirely of volunteers who are passionate about their work and do it for the love of it. President of the theatre group Dru Bartlett said “We do this for the love of it and the strong sense of family in our group.”

The Director, cast, crew and set design spend months before the performance date preparing, planning, constructing and practicing for the upcoming play. They are always looking for volunteers in every aspect of the theater performance and you can go online to view the list of jobs at any time.

“One of the main focus of the group is to strengthen ties with our local and the broader arts community.” Mr Bartlett said.

The final scene of the play with all the characters on stage is powerful, it leaves the audience overwhelmed with the intensity of Franklin’s disappointments, frustrations and losses in her life which is revealed in the dialogue by each of the other characters in the play. It is a tragic story, told powerfully on stage by a cast who put everything into it, a credit to the director Sharon Maine for a brilliant show and Janet Francis the Stage Manager for a simple but powerful stage set up along with a dynamic cast and stage crew.

Patrons young and old were riveted by the storyline and acting with many over the moon about the production. The audience laughed heartily at the lines in the play but also were moved to tears by the powerful themes of the story. Comments included, “a fast-moving, very cutting and sharp wit.”

Edna Chandler, the founder of The Basin Theatre Group would be so delighted to see the result of her hard work and commitment to the local theatre over many years. She would have loved to see this wonderful continuation of her legacy to the arts. Later in the year, there are a number of upcoming performances including the riotous comedy It’s Now or Never and murder mystery Lady in the Van. Let the shows continue on!

Please go to or call 1300 784 668 for further information