‘1916 – a love story’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom
by Gordon The Optom November 12, 2018
‘1916, a love story’ is a musical play written by local lad, John Beaton, and is suitable for the whole family. An ex-Councillor for Mundaring, John was also a member of the State Executive at the Australian Writers’ Guild, and a lecturer in Screen Topics at Curtin, Murdoch, and WAAPA. He has received a WA Screen Industry Award for his Outstanding Contribution.
This delightful, fairly simple storyline imparts a great deal of information to the younger members of the audience. John has selected many of the old musical favourites of the day.
Darlington Theatre Players are presenting two-hours of musical memories, at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount, with curtain up at 8.00 pm each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday evenings and 2.00 pm for the Sunday matinées. The season runs until Saturday 8th December.
The season opens on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles that would see the end of all wars. As it happened, it was the unreasonable and impossible demands made on Germany by this treaty that became a major cause of the second war.
The scene: October 1916 in the Glen Forrest area.
The set: There is a 4 x 3 metre, mottled grey wall (looking like concrete) on each side of the stage. They taper slightly toward the rear; where on the back wall is a large projection screen. These grey walls were very versatile, with various light patterns and colours, they became anything from old factory brick walls, to shady dappled woodland (lighting designed and operated by Michael Hart).
The set designer was George Boyd, (construction by George, Michael Hart, Duncan Beatty, Adrian Ashman, Luke Miller, Daniel Minutillo, and Bailey Fellows), who surprised the audience when each walls rotated through 100 degrees to reveal two interior scenes. One was the James’ home, smart with a well-furnished kitchenette, whereas the other depicted the home of struggling Irish immigrants, the O’Connors’, a cramped, one-roomed house.
Lesley Sutton supplied the props, which included some quality enamelware jugs. Lesley even produced a soap saver cage – something I had forgotten about decades ago.
The fine sound design was by Guy Jackson, and operated by Bailey Fellow and Ambro Vonk.
The external scenes relied upon Blake Jenkins’ projected images and videos. Blake has shown skill in selecting quality views that immediately depicted the atmosphere of the locations, from an ethereal railway station, to the docks.
Stage manager George Boyd controlled a magnificent fast, silent, efficient, and almost invisible stage crew (Locklen Falkingham, Belinda Beatty, Adrian Ashman, Luke Miller, and Guy Jackson)
In a Baptist household, the loving father, Charlie James (Daniel Minutillo) believes in backing the ‘old country’. He is trying to encourage his elderly mother, Grandma Dorothy (Jenny Trestrail) and his wife, Julia (Michelle Ezzy) into backing compulsory conscription in the imminent vote, thus forcing Australian men to go to war.
Twelve-year old, Harry (Kody Fellows – well done) is upset to learn that his 18-year-old brother, Robert (Guy Jackson) has voluntarily enlisted in the army. Robert expects to be back quite soon, but he is headed for the Somme. With about 50,000 Aussie troops killed already, will Robert’s mother be next to receive the telegram that all mothers dread?
Much to the annoyance of staunch Roman Catholic family man, Joe O’Connor (Alan Gill) and his dutiful wife, Mary (Sophie Byrnes), their 18-years old son, ‘Paddy’ (Jack Martin) has fallen for Protestant teenager, Rose James (Matilda Jenkins). Joe has very strong opinions about religion and liberty.
On a podium outside the Midland Railway Workshops, the Union leaders (Dominic Masterson, Luke Miller, Russell Fellows, and Tim Bolton) are fighting for higher wages, and advising their members how to vote.
The pacifist, the Reverend Meade (Brendan Tobin) seems to cause friction in the village with his ideals.
Chorus: Adrian Ashman, Amanda Minutillo, Belinda Beatty, David Zuiddam, Evie Madeleine, Gloster Guest, Joshua White, Rachel Vonk, Ruby Oliver, Sarah White, Suzanna Matla-Ienco, Suzy June Wakeling, and Tracey Morrison.
There are about a dozen songs, which despite being 100 years old, are instantly recognisable. The musical director, Iain Martin, has given us a selection of solos, duets, and choral groups. Pianist Ann Cahill accompanies the singers flawlessly from the upstage wings. This simple accompaniment gave an authentic mood, as in the early 1900s families would sit around the piano in the parlour, taking turns at giving their party piece. The singers were all perfectly in tune and in the groups sang as one voice with no one member trying to hog the limelight.
There were several extra fine voices in the ‘two families’, from Daniel’s rich bass voice to his ‘wife’ Michelle’s soprano rendition. Most impressive, with every word heard perfectly.
The costumes were again the task of Marjorie DeCaux, who, assisted by Rachel, Tracy and Rebecca has this time given us ‘the smart working class basics’, as opposed to her normal opulent output.
A stunning Art Deco style, A4 programme from Docuprint, with a beautiful piece of artwork on the front cover.
Directed by the talented and energetic Neroli Sweetman, who is never scared to have a new challenge, the cast have presented just the right amount of pathos with meaningful poignant moments. There was a particularly touching scene when Harry was talking to his brother Robert in the kitchen. The curtain call – in respect to the memories played out – is taken in silence. When the whole cast were gathered, they gave a simple nod of the head, before the audience showed their appreciation for a most enjoyable, respectful and worthy night’s entertainment.
‘Those who died yesterday had plans for this morning. Those who died this morning had plans for tonight. Do not take life for granted. In the blink of an eye, everything can change. So forgive often, and love with all your heart. You may never know when you may have the chance again’. (Lessons learned in life)
This two and a half hour, commanding production by the Darlington Theatre Players can be seen at the Marloo Theatre just off Greenmount Hill near Mundaring. Performances are on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7.30, until Saturday the 14th July. The Sunday matinées are on 1st and 8th July at 2.00 pm. Tickets are at sensible prices.
The main sets: Chinon Castle’s reception hall, Eleanor’s bed chamber, Philip’s chamber, Henry’s chamber and the wine cellar. These four major sets were designed by George Boyd, Brendan Tobin and Graeme Dick. This team never settles for ‘basic’; the walls looked like genuine limestone blocks, with an arched doorway and rounded recesses in the walls. The doorsteps are dark grey slate. Set Construction was by the designers, and Michael Hart, Michael Vincent, Peter White, Sam White, Adrian Ashman and Owen Davis.
In Philip’s chamber is a curtained, rude teak, four-poster bed. In Alais’ room, is a narrow, single oak bed, with an impressive headboard. The quality furniture and wrought iron properties were thanks to George Boyd and Graeme Dick.
Michael Hart’s lighting design included night scenes and the flickering glow of a large fire.
The sound was designed by Mike Smale, who also operated the lighting and sound.
Stage Manager Graeme Dick and his assistant, Christine Offlinger swiftly carried out the well-planned scene changes, dressed as medieval servants. For the larger scene changes, the cast helped.
The scene: Christmas Eve 1183 at the French Royal Fortress, Chateau Chinon, situated between Poitiers and Le Mans in North West France.
King Henry II (Tim Fraser) – thanks to 1066 and the Battle of Hastings – is now King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy, and now, by marrying Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Siobhan Vincent) is King of Aquitaine – the whole area in the West of France, from the English Channel to the Spanish border.
Being the Count of Anjou, Henry is staying at his castle in Chinon for Christmas. The King has become estranged from his tough, manipulating wife – a beautiful, French cougar, 10 years older than her English husband – who has been a queen for nearly 46 years. Feeling threatened by this controlling woman, Henry has had her imprisoned for the past ten years, but has kindly let her out – temporarily – for a Christmas break. The two get huge pleasure provoking each other.
Whilst Eleanor has been in prison, Henry has taken a mistress, his innocent ‘niece’ Alais Capet (Rhiannon Cary) who is loved by the 16 year old, immature, wimpish, spoiled, hot tempered, morose and sullen Prince John (Jonathan Hoey). John is the youngest, but favourite son of Henry and Eleanor. He is ‘pimply and smells of compost’. Alais, however, is not as mild as she appears; she is quite ruthless and in love with Henry for a reason.
Eleanor and Henry have three ‘full’ sons between them; Richard, Geoffrey, and John. Eleanor despises her children, and yet is still protective of them. The icy and calculating, suave Geoffrey (Gavin Crane), who owns and rules Brittany in North West France, manipulates his youngest brother, John. The handsome, war-mongering gay, is Richard the Lionheart (Rhett Clarke), the eldest son who is in love with Philip II Augustus Capet (Thomas McCracken), who has been King of France since he was 15.
Philip and his half-sister is Alais, want England in their French empire.
Eleanor has had a few other ‘keep it in the family’ partners.
With everyone trying to manipulate Henry for their own benefit, who will actually win the King’s crown?
Marjorie DeCaux’s superb medieval costumes comprised a large range of gowns, with various surcoats and overdresses, all of the highest standard. Henry had a rustic outfit, but Richard had an impressive Crusader’s outfit. Philip was most regal. Many congratulation to Marjorie, Lynda Stubbs, Shelly Miller, Yvonne Miller and Sharon Zuiddam for their excellent thread work.
Director Lynne Devenish, as always, has obviously explained to the cast the story behind the story, along with the intricate historical connections and relationships. This knowledge then allowed the cast to put all of their efforts into delivering the script with confidence. At times the dialogue became quite heated, but the enunciation was still clear. The pace was perfect throughout.
Henry had to show his determination and strength, with power and authority, yet hinting at how aware and susceptible he was to attack. Eleanor, the old viper, could switch between a simpering weak woman and her real character of being a fiery manipulator. The exchanges between Henry and Eleanor were special pieces of theatre – engrossing and at times leaving the audience breathless.
What a magnificent show, packed with first class drama, comedy and action. The two leads are amazing and outstanding, and they were backed by a very strong cast. A difficult show to stage, but handled perfectly by Lynne Devenish. Give the cast a standing ovation at the end – they deserve it!
This unique form of comedy is being presented by the Darlington Theatre Players Inc., at Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount. Curtain up on this 2-hour comedy is at 8.00 pm each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, until Saturday 19th May with Sunday matinées on 29th April and the 6th and 13th May at 2.00 pm.
The scene: is Mrs Taggart’s comfortable home in south west London in 1966.
George Boyd’s set: is a smart lounge with azure blue walls and white woodwork. At the rear of the room is an upright piano. To one side of the room is a china cabinet containing a lifetime of treasures, and an oak, drinks cabinet. Across the room are the French doors leading to the garden. Centre stage was a two-seater settee and three matching armchairs. George’s well-conceived sets are never simply three walls at right angles, but he always has recesses and interesting wall angles, which adds realism to the appearance.
The set was solidly constructed by the cast. Lesley Sutton’s quality furnishings and props are always numerous and perfect for the ‘era’.
Shelly Miller’s costumes brought a smile, with flares and a kipper tie for one actor, along with a knee-length kaftan dress for an actress – memories of the mid-1960s flashed back. The lifelike and subtle sound effects were the work of George Boyd. Michael Hart’s lighting design, with realistic effects was operated by Brendan Tobin. I thought Brendan had missed a lighting cue, before realising this was intentional and the first laugh out loud joke of the play.
The sitting room door opens, and the youngest Taggart, Tom the philandering wanton son, (Benedict Chau) puts on the lights. He has brought home his attractive pregnant fiancée, Shirley (Ellie Bawden) for the memorial gathering on the anniversary of his father’s death. The oldest brother, caring considerate Henry (Paul Reed), who has an unusual hobby, arrives home closely followed by the spineless Terry (Luke Miller) and his nervous, shy wife, Karen (Shelly Miller) who are about to emigrate with their five children.
Karen immediately warns young Shirley about her widowed mother-in-law. ‘Mum’ Taggart (Jacqui Warner) is a domineering, evil, vindictive, manipulative matriarch – and these are her good points.
The three sons all work in the family’s shonky builder’s business, where the mother is the boss.
Will poor Shirley be accepted into the family?
The director, Rob Warner and his assistant director Brendan Tobin have chosen a magnificent cast. They have guided the performers to deliver most of their dialogue at a normal voice level and standard speaking pace. The performances were subtle, with the use of body language and facial expressions conveying the family’s innermost feelings. The atmosphere in the room was meant to be that of a loving family, and it was until ‘Mum’ started; with her jaw dropping comments and attitudes that left even the most street-cred audience member stunned.
This cast had perfect chemistry and rapport. With Tom determined to embarrass his mother, but just how much support would he receive from the others? Jacqui Warner was magnificent as the bitch ‘puppeteer’ mother (and that is being polite), who managed to pull the strings on every family member.
This unique play is a must see. If you think you have the family member from Hell, then seeing ‘Mum’ will make you feel so much happier with your own relations. Perhaps wear garlic around your neck and carry a crucifix.
Great acting, and a very clever script presented in a comfortable environment. Highly recommended.
Originally presented at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, this 2-hour, Australian Premiere is being presented by the Darlington Theatre Players can be seen at the comfortable Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, (off Innamincka Road), Greenmount Hill. The curtain goes up at 8.00 pm each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday until Saturday the 10th March. There are matinées on Sunday 25th February and 4th March at 2.00 pm.
The set: at the rear of the stage is a marble boudoir, with white marble walls, floor, doors and even the windows are marble. There is a luxury round, silk bed overlooked by a full-sized Greek God statue (Owen Davis). This portion of the stage is behind a scrim (a gauze curtain that with correct lighting can hide the view behind). The lighting was designed by Shelly Miller and operated by Jeremy Salt.
The unusual music, especially the opening number ‘The Fall’ by Carl Barat, was chosen by sound designer, Michèle Acott, with the sound operation by Charlotte Meagher.
The scenes include a bar, Catherine and Ben’s living room, and Art and Anne’s sitting room. The furniture comprises a three piece suite, matching tables, and bar stools. All are made in the Art Deco style, in wood painted pale grey.
The scene changes were made like a ‘wipe’ on the cinema screen. A 3-metre square ‘slab of black marble’ slid like a curtain, across the stage. The stage hands, furniture, props (Lesley Sutton) and actors all made their entrances and exits behind the slab, without the need for a blackout and yet still out of sight of the audience. This helped keep the pace of the show moving along perfectly. Hard, tricky work for stage manager, Belinda Beatty and her crew, Carol Hall, David Seman, Locklen Falkingham and Lachlan Satie. A very clever effect that must have taken a great deal of planning.
The opening scene shows a marble bedroom with red pulsing light, throbbing in time to the sound of a heartbeat.
In a bar, a couple of men are drinking. Although they have been business friends for 30 years, neither have met each other’s wife and children for more than a few minutes in all that time – and that was some years ago. The two men are Art (Joe Isaia), who is a bit of a larrikin, and Ben (Peter Clark) a more staid, sensitive and deep thinking man, are enjoying a brandy after work.
With a smile, Art informs Ben that last night in his dreams he had made love to Catherine (Krysia Wiechecki), Ben’s wife, in a heavenly bedroom completely built of white polished marble, in a silk bed with a Greek marble statue overlooking the torrid, erotic affair. Art thought it was hilarious; however Ben became extremely jealous, and rushed off home to see if his wife still loved him.
At home, Ben is shattered to find that his wife had exactly the same dream, and was quite excited by it. With a few kids to look after, Catherine enjoyed the little excitement in her life.
In Art’s home, his wife of 20 years, Anne (Kylie Isaia) again with a brood of children, is continually exhausted and just wants the easy life. She even tells Art that if he wishes to philander, then just go ahead.
Can there be a happy balance, or are these typical urban families heading for disaster?
This play’s script does not hold back on the punches, and so required a confident and experienced cast to make it work. The brave, highly talented cast, under the sensitive guidance of director Rodney van Groningen, take the audience through the ennui of two stale marriages, to the excitement of their dreams. All of this experienced cast have been nominated for, and won, most of the major acting awards in Perth; but even so, they are all taken out of their comfort zones.
Krysia gives a magnificent performance, with a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute high and madly in love, and then extreme lows and depression. I have seen Krysia many times, but this her best performance yet. Peter as her extremely jealous husband is truly mentally tortured by the circumstances, a powerful and exhausting part for him.
Joe had to show elation, confusion whilst fighting his conscience. Kylie at first glance seemed to be simply a bored housewife, but she cleverly threw in hints of her inner feeling. A subtle and mind evoking presentation.
With a director who has had 35 years in the theatre, and who has proved his immense talent in all areas of theatre production from scenery building through acting, lighting to directing, Rodney van Groningen is a name that promised a top notch show. With an outstanding cast my expectations were huge, and I was not disappointed.
Touches of humour, but mainly a wonderful study of the family relationship of two couples. Real quality.
This 150-minute, fun-filled comedy – almost in the style of a pantomime – has brought pleasure to millions of children around Europe. This production is for both the young (over 5) and young at heart.
The Darlington Players at the Marloo Theatre, Marloo Road, Greenmount are presenting the performances on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8.00 pm, until the 9th December. There is a Sunday matinée at 2.00 pm.
Scene is an Indian jungle in 1890.
The remarkable and stunning set was designed and constructed by Owen Davies. Yvonne Miller and Belinda Beatty supplied the numerous props. An outside scene is very difficult to present convincingly, two metres of plastic ivy and three pathetic pot plants are very common. Centre stage, this set had a tree with a girth of five metres; it had a hole half way up, large enough to hold three youngsters. There was a four-metre branch, which could hold two adults. Higher up the tree were several holes where faces appeared and tropical birds looked out. There were lianas hanging from the creeper-covered branches. The bark was patterned, and superbly painted. When multi-award winning designer, George Boyd – who was away for this preparation – admits to being jealous, you know the quality.
There were minor, yet still substantial, trees on each side of the stage. On the left apron was a realistic ‘wolf cave’. Shere Khan’s throne was a massive moulded rock, surrounded with pieces of skeleton. Another two-metre high set of rocks acted as Akela’s throne. There were two mud huts constructed from bamboo sticks and with a grass roof, which were rotated to show the furnished interior.
Lachlan Satie and Belinda Beatty assisted the stage manager, George Boyd. Their hard working crew comprised Rodney van Groningen, Ahmad Abdullah, Peter White, and Sam White.
Jeremy Salt and Lachlan Kessey operated Shelly Miller’s wonderful lighting design that varied between creepy and bright. Charlotte Meagher, Luke Miller, and Shelly Miller operated the soundscape, the musical backing CD, and headsets. Normally the headsets are only used for the singing, but with so many inexperienced youngsters, although they acted well and were word-perfect, their vocal projection was little quiet and it might help on occasions to use the headsets to boost their volume.
Before the show, three cheeky faced monkeys, Thuu (Lilly Miller), Chikai (Taya Cicanese) and Oo (Tahli Redgwell), check out the audience, another monkey (Niamh O’Herir) sells programmes.
Soon the curtain rises. In the jungle, a young Indian woman, Messua (Georgia Unsworth) and her four-year-old son, Mowgli (Felix Steinwandel) are enjoying a day out, when a greedy golden jackal, Tabaqui (Benedict Chau) arrives. He demands Mowgli as a ‘friend’ for him and the terrifying, man-eating tiger, Shere Khan (Paul Reed). A troop of monkeys, Won-Tolla (Kaitlyn Saunders), the monkey king, King Louie (Katelyn Barr), and Phaona (Hana Sakane-McLelland) realise that Shere Khan will kill the child cub, so discuss Mowgli’s future.
The monkeys take Mowgli to see the chief wolf, Akela (Gloster Guest) and his deputy chief (Lily Valverde). Akela allows a Father Wolf (Guy Jackson) his wife, Mother Wolf, Raksha (Charlize Gosnell), to adopt Mowgli and let him grow up with their wolf cubs, Ko (Levi Jackson-Guest) and Tha (Liam Miller).
Seven years later, we find teenage Mowgli (Lukas Steinwandel) is healthy and still being cared for by the wolves, along with a big black, cuddly sloth bear, Baloo (Ryan Perrin), and Mowgli’s mentor, the black panther, Bagheera (Suzy-June Wakeling).
When he discovers he is a human, Mowgli considers leaving the pack and returns to his village. He meets a beautiful young girl, Neela (Tiana Aitken) and falls in love. He also meets an untouchable beggar (Clare Smale) whom he tries to help, but is threatened by the village women (Belinda Beatty, Gillian Clark, Suzanna Matla, Sarah White, Julie Payne, and Jen O’Herir), before being moved along by the guard (Thomas Outred).
Mowgli returns to the jungle and meets up with the respected wolf pack, including the oldest son, Grey Brother (David Seman), Ferao (Joshua White) and Akela’s grandchild, Leela (Molly O’Herir), they tell him of the trouble that Shere Khan has been causing. Perhaps the giant python, Kaa (Michaela Tholen) might protect everyone.
Will Mowgli enjoy being back in the village with his mother? Can he find a way of stopping the evil Khan?
The play’s Director was drama teacher, Shelly Miller, who was assisted by her husband, Luke. Considering the very low age of many of the performers, everyone was perfectly rehearsed and never missed a movement or vocal cue. The show was quite long, but they kept the pace up beautifully.
Even the youngest in the audience loved the colour of the set and the realistic costumes – this was true magic for these youngsters. With the splendid backing track CD, there was just the right amount of singing. Musical Director Kiran Podmore, chose his vocalists very well, there were some crystal-clear, voiced soloists. Choreographer Rachel Vonk also selected her solo dancers carefully – Mowgli’s Mum – Georgia Unsworth was a graceful ballet dancer. The kids in the dancing line, moved in sync and sang with gusto. At the end of the numbers, they exited instantly – how often do we see a nervous performer left on the stage staring out blankly? Great professional teamwork.
The superb costume design was by the ever reliable, Marjorie DeCaux, who produced realistic monkeys, fluffy wolves, through to the fine silk jackets of Mowgli and Shere Khan. Kaa the snake was strongly constructed and thanks to the fine operator (Michaela) mesmerised the young audience. Most of the men wore baggy Harem pants, some with wild patterns.
There were plenty of extra laughs, like the way Baloo carried Mowgli, Shere Khan’s threatening behaviour, although it was not until the final curtain that the children got up the nerve to Boo the Baddy. Tabaqui‘s whole delightful demeanour, was that of a subservient idiot – fabulous.
Marloo are accustomed to good houses, but this production was practically sold out for every performance, long before the opening night. There are literally only a couple of seats left for each of the remaining nights.
Winning a Lawrence Olivier Award for ‘Comedy of the Year’, the play has been translated into 40 languages including Hungarian and Chinese. Ray started his career as an actor aged 14, and as a playwright aged 29. Now at the tender age of 85, and with an OBE from the Queen, he is still writing his unique farces, having sold an incredible 100 million theatre tickets on the way. His son, Danni, and his family live in Australia looking after Ray’s play interests.
This two-hour, award winning farce by the Darlington Theatre Players can be seen at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night at 8.00 pm until 15th July. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm on the 2nd and 9th July.
The scene: it is 8.30 in the evening, in suite 648 on the sixth floor of the swanky, Westminster Hotel.
The luxurious room has Bohemian style, cream wallpaper with fine red and lime stripes. The huge window, with a balcony outside, faces over the river to the Houses of Parliament (very good artwork). The deep pink, velour curtains are impressive with an imposing, matching floral display. There is the hotel’s passage, room door, a door to the bedroom, and another to a cupboard. There are a couple of plush chairs, a long narrow console desk with a ‘phone and centre stage, a profile chaise longue (properties by Lesley Sutton). The set design is by George Boyd, and (by necessity) very strongly constructed by George, Duncan Beatty, Ray Egan, Michael Hart, Neroli Sweetman, Taneal Thompson, Belinda Beatty, Jenny Trestrail, and Owen Davis.
My initial impression was that the set looked a little empty, however, by the end of the play every inch of the stage had been employed as the cast went through their dangerous acrobatics. The very large window had faulty sash cords – intentionally – which caused the window to collapse on several occasions. Stage manager, Guy Jackson had the very demanding and responsible task of giving us this entertainment without killing the cast. Very clever, convincing, and brave of the performers.
The whole play took place in real time – two hours – with Parliament’s Westminster chimes subtly played every quarter of an hour. Quality lighting and sound thanks to Mike Smale.
As always, the costumes by Marjorie DeCaux were varied and perfect, from a bride and a waiter, to ‘nothing’, everything was covered.
Appropriately, an orchestral version of ‘Behind Closed Doors’ plays as the curtains open.
Junior Tory Minister, Richard Willey (yes, Dick Willey! Luke Miller) is on the ‘phone, explaining to his wife Pamela (Taneal Thompson), how he is in a British Museum reading room catching up with paperwork. As he hangs up, a beautiful young woman in a black basque appears; she is a typist / secretary for the opposition Labour Party. This is Jane Worthington (Ellie Bawden). Thankfully, Jane’s jealous husband, Ronnie Worthington (Blake Prosser) does not know where she is.
There is a knock on the door; it is the disbelieving and exasperated Hotel Manager (Graham Miles), who remembers Willey and his women from a previous visit (the ‘Two into One’ farce). The poor Italian maid (Rachel Vonk), who has only a smattering of English, repeatedly tries her best to turn down the beds – without success.
Willey, cuddling Jane, opens the curtains to admire the view before they make mad passionate love. He is horrified to discover a corpse (Dominic Masterson) jammed under a collapsed window frame. Jane suggests they call the police, but that would reveal their scandalous position. Willey ‘phones one of his minions, private secretary George Pigden (Ryan Perrin) to help him dispose of the body. Pigden is a nervous mummy’s boy, who has seen little of life, relying upon the security of his Mum’s nurse, Gladys Foster (Jenny Trestrail) for guidance.
Willey then foolishly seeks advice from the devious and mercenary waiter (Ray Egan).
Mountainous layers of pandemonium seem to develop from every little molehill. A mere passing of a comment results in further mayhem. Will Willey get the passion that he so desperately seeks? Is George Pigden capable of coming to the rescue?
Neroli Burton’s direction is inventive and tight. She has kept the pace belting along, with plenty of surprises. The cast have great chemistry. Unusually for a farce, the main character, Willey, is stiff upper lipped and generally unflappable – mainly because he dumps all of his problems onto others. Many of the cast have never played in a farce before, indeed two of the major players Dominic (the body) and Ryan (Pigden) are quite new to the stage, and both did an outstanding job. Dominic was amazing as the corpse that was tossed around. Poor Pigden was out of his depth, not knowing how to escape the clutches of his manipulating MP boss.
The whole cast knew exactly what was expected of them, some had to panic and run around, but most had to play it calmly as though the disasters were normal daily happenings.
Congratulations to the two or three daring people who put their bodies on the line, to help the success of this hilarious show. There were belly laughs from beginning to end.
This play is deservedly one of Marloo’s fastest selling shows, with a few performances already sold out. Try to get tickets quickly.
‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ was written in 1962, by one of America’s foremost modern playwrights, Edward Albee. Edward Franklin Albee III died only 8 months ago, aged 88.
When two-weeks old, he was adopted by the wealthy son of Edward Franklin Albee II, owner of several vaudeville theatres. He was expelled from school several times for ‘laziness’.
At 18 he left home, as his parents did not regard his playwriting as a proper occupation; Albee then used this clashing relationship with his adopting mother, as the basis of some of his characters. Before long, he became an eminent university professor of English, and received numerous honours from countries as wide afield as Bulgaria.
This play won Albee a Tony Award for Best Play, and being ‘culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant’ was further selected for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. However, the play was too frank and controversial, so the Advisory Group voted against it, overruling the Awards Committee’s positive decision. Members left in protest and disgust at Albee being robbed of the prize.
The 1966 film of the play later won five Oscars.
Albee based Martha and George very heavily on two New York socialite friends. Right down to their drinking and explosive relationship. One can only wonder how Albee was not sued.
Although being briefly engaged to a debutante, he was openly gay with two, consecutive long-time partners. He asserted, “A writer who happens to be gay or lesbian, must be able to transcend self”, which he does wonderfully, with many of his plays being based around married couples and their sexual relationships. Being an ‘Absurdist’ author, like the playwrights Beckett and Ionesco, the dialogue of his plays was often described as biting.
All royalties from this play, ‘Virginia Woolf’, go to a foundation that Albee established.
The Darlington Theatre Players Inc. is presenting the admirable 2005 version. It is a three Act, two interval, three-hour play at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount, on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at an earlier time of 7.30 pm, until Saturday 13th May. There is a Sunday matinée on the 30th April and the 7th May at 2.00 pm.
The scene is 1960 in the living room of a staff residence, on the Campus of New England College. The set designer, George Boyd, has yet again produced a stunning setting. The room shows the wealth of the couple, and the disorganisation and shambles of their lives. At the rear of the stage is a teak front door, with stained glass surround. This door opens onto a small raised area, with a staircase leading off. Down a couple of steps to the large, sunken sitting room, with two twin-seat settees, a brick fireplace, radiogram and numerous trimmings from the late 1950s. There is even a tubular chimes, doorbell. Wonderful props from Lesley Sutton and Ray Egan. The set indicated a huge amount of excellent work by George Boyd and his team Brendan Tobin, Michael Hart, Adrian Ashman, Duncan and Belinda Beatty.
The stage managers were George Boyd and Guy Jackson.
The sound design by Greg Rusha was a little trickier than first appears; good work by operator Belinda Beatty. The lighting design by Michael Hart was clever, the room being evenly but dimly lit with a soft pink glow and the seating area picked out by well-positioned floods.
It is almost midnight when Martha (Alide Chaney) and her Associate Professor husband, George (Richard Hadler) stagger through their front door and head straight to the drinks cabinet. Martha, now in her 50s, has been spoilt by her rich father all of her life, and because Daddy is the University President she believes that everyone, including George, is there for her bidding.
George is just starting to relax in his armchair, when Martha announces that she has invited a young couple around for a drink. George is dumfounded, and queries why she would want ask anyone around at such a late hour. The doorbell chimes and George discovers the reason; Nick (Cameron Leese) is a tall, young athletic looking man – a junior lecturer in biology – he is just the type that sex-starved Martha adores. Nick’s wife, is slender – but ‘no child bearing hips’ – giggly Honey (Krysia Wiechecki). It is not long before all four are swigging back the drinks, drop their guard and start to lose their inhibitions.
Martha and George have a private agenda and routine, where they hurl scathing and caustic comments, without the visitors being fully aware of how much each remark hurts. Nick and Honey are embarrassed at first, but soon find themselves taunting each other too, as their personal and private lives are exposed. Fear not, Martha is there to console Nick.
Will the guests leave early, or will they be drawn into the spider’s web and a terrible fate? After decades of marriage, do Martha and George really hate each other, or is there still an under stream of respect and love for each other?
Director, Brendan Tobin and his assistant director, Amanda Minutillo have really conquered the mood and meaning of this highly complex play. Although Albee has written a rich and multifaceted script, most film and stage directors feel that the whole show should simply be a shouting contest between Martha and George. In this production, Brendan has wisely slowed the pace so that every acerbic word can be heard clearly. The top-notch actors hardly raise their voices, but focus on giving a powerful, emotional delivery of the precise dialogue. The text often leaves the audience wondering what is ‘true’ and what may be a ‘fabricated illusion’.
With three hours of complicated, non-linear dialogue to learn, the task is horrendous. Each actor seems to be ignoring what the other is saying, in a desperate attempt to be seen as the one in charge. Martha is constantly trying to denigrate George, who has learnt to win by being pedantic to the extreme. Alide’s portrayed Martha with her heart and soul – you really felt her pain.
Richard is best known for his light-hearted parts, such as the pantomime ‘baddie’ and a larrikin in light comedies, but this play gives him a chance to show his superlative talents in a serious role. The cast worked particularly well, with Cameron starting as a cool, well organised man, who along with poor wife (Krysia),was systematically destroyed.
Lynda Stubbs’ hair styling matched the era perfectly – loved Honey’s flicked hairdo. Marjorie De Caux’s costume selection immediately informed the audience of the character’s personality; there was unkempt George, with his cardigan and suede shoes. Sloppy Martha, blossomed into a glamourous woman when muscular Nick arrived in his tightfitting shirt. Honey’s smart, aqua dress and matching coat were striking.
Do not be deterred by the length of this play; the production is gripping from the acrimonious beginning to the exorcism end. I thought that I knew and understood the story well until I saw this production, and suddenly the characters become lucid and the many hidden storylines fitted together to give an enthralling and satisfying evening. Superb direction and acting, a special play that should not be missed.
At the final curtain, you could see this amazing cast were totally drained by the mental demand from the script and the extreme emotional situations involved. However, the standing ovation must have been some consolation.
This fresh, Australian comedy is being presented by the Darlington Theatre Players Inc., at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, just off Greenmount Hill. The producers have played safe and put up a warning sign saying ‘Adult Themes’; it is a little saucy and the storyline is for adults, but there is nothing offensive.
The 130-minute show can be seen on Wednesday, Friday, and a Saturday nights until 11th March. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm on 26th February and 5th March.
The set is a very smart, modern flat in the Sydney CBD. The walls are a pale grey, and the grey tile floor is slightly darker. The décor is simple – the contemporary minimalist style – but quality. There is a bar, a sofa and antique chairs. In the corner is a desk.
On one wall is a beautiful oil painting by Catherine Spadaccini, and the rear wall has a photoprint by Missy Cat, of a snooker game, called ‘Hail, Hail the Gangs all Here’ showing James Dean – Damien’s hero.
On the stage apron was a well-furnished, commercial office scene. The whole show was smoothly stage managed by Belinda Beatty.
The set was designed by Hayley Derwort, and built by the two men in her life – her dad, Allan, and boyfriend, Ashley Johnson. George Boyd supplied friendly advice. Extra assistance came from David Bain and Adrian Ashman.
David Bain’s lighting design was operated by Shelly Miller, and Greg Rusha’s soundscape operated by Eden Sambridge.
Immaculately dressed, an insurance salesman, George (Owen Davies) has just made another appointment on the phone with a client, when there is a knock on the front door. It is George’s old Uni friend, hippy and slightly alternative, Marcus (Jake Dennis), returning after a year wandering around the world.
Marcus phones his girlfriend, Isabelle (Brittany Isaia) to tell her he is on home soil.
George reveals that he has decided, for business reasons, to use the more vibrant name, Damien. Seeing how busy Damien is, Marcus – poverty stricken from his trip – asks if he can get a similar job.
When Marcus telephones his mother, Elinor (Marsha Bennett), he lets it slip where he is staying and in typical maternal fashion, she arrives at the flat within minutes.
After a few days, Isabelle tells her work cool and well-organised boss, Marion (Alyssa Burton) how Marcus is no longer the wild rampant male he was before his trip. Marion has some wise advice.
This is director, Hayley Derwort’s second comedy, having given us a hysterical show last season. She searched for a new Australian script and was thrilled to find this hilarious piece. Hayley has selected three, well-proven cast members. Owen as the owner of an unusual business was smooth and unflappable. Brittany had several very different moods to conquer, from randy to broken hearted, which she did with aplomb. Alyssa, as always, gave a great performance as the cool, stiff upper lipped, boss who had several secrets and great advice.
When two first time actors auditioned, Hayley took a risk and wisely put her faith in them; the result was excellent. This is Jake Dennis’s first time acting, although he has a huge amount of experience as a musical entertainer, both on stage and TV.
After a course at the highly respected, Ali Robert’s Acting School – and perhaps now approaching a mid-life crisis (joking x) – Marsha Bennett seen here on the stage for the first time, has courageously thrown herself into this major part in a full-length play. With good direction and a solid cast around her, she shines in this production.
I thought it was going to be a straightforward storyline, but there were quite a few twists. This well-paced play is great fun. Most enjoyable.
The LP soundtrack of the 1984 film sold 15 million copies. Two of the songs being nominated for Oscars.
This bright and effervescent musical is being performed by the Darlington Theatre Players at Marloo Theatre, Marloo Road, Greenmount each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening at 8.00, with matinees on Sundays at 2.00 pm until Saturday 12th March.
There were no sets as such, but there were some very impressive structures (George Boyd designer) which were beautifully built and perfectly conveyed the atmosphere of the locality. Some were massive, such as the sport’s stadium, terrace seating – which moved around in total silence. Other features include the church entrance, a soda bar and barbeque eatery. The only ‘standard set’ is the minister’s home (props Raelene Cover). There were about two dozen involved in the construction, with a further dozen as stage crew.
The production was managed by Gail Palmer, and stage-managed by Rob Warner and David Bain – most impressive.
Teenage Ren (Liam Borbas) and his Mum, Ethel (Clare Fazackerley), move from Chicago to the Mid-West, woop woop town of Bomont, to live with Ren’s Aunt Lulu (Jacqui Warner) and Uncle Wes (Alan Markham).
At Ren’s new school is Ariel (Brittany Isaia), daughter of the puritanical minister, Reverend Moore (John Taylor) and his wife, Vi (Kylie Isaia). Ariel has an obnoxious boyfriend, Chuck Cranston (Blake Prosser), who works at the local garage with three wasters, Travis (Ethan Acott), Lyle (Owen Davis) and Rhett (Alistair Ball). Ariel’s school friends, Wendy-Jo (Suzy June Wakeling), Rusty (Teah Dunning) and Urleen (Charlize Gosnell) try to warn her about Chuck but Ariel will not listen.
Ren finds himself being outcast by the school Principal (Michele Acott) for being too outspoken. Even local cop (David Seaman) gives him a ticket. The sports coach, Mr Dunbar (Luke Miller) and his wife, Eleanor (Sarah Palmer), treat Ren shabbily because they are Bridge friends of the Rev. Shaw.
Whilst in Betty’s (Rachel Vonk) ‘Blast’ soda café, shy Willard (Chris Ball) explains the no pop music and dancing policy of the town council. As the trio sing (Georgia Kinnane, Nicola Kinnane and Belinda Beatty) Ren musters his classmates and unsuccessfully demands a senior prom, and so with a group of friends drive 100 miles to an untamed night of liberty at the Bar BQ Club. The Club is a wild place, where Bob (Simon Dreyer) and the cowgirls (Gemma Addison and Eden Sambridge) boot scoot, as the singers (Darin Aqila, Charlie Darlington) chant.
Can Ren win Ariel’s heart? With the help of friends, Jeter (Billy Darlington) and Garvin (Matt Manning), can anything be done win over Reverend Moore’s mind block?
Other performers include: Steph Shaw, Aaliyah Thompson, Asha Vivian, Brooklyn Kamer, Rebecca Mattison, Channing Whitworth, Laura Goodlet, Nieve Hope, Caitlyn Hughes, Sophie Todd, Jordan Tabb, Emilie Tiivel, Tania Morrow, Clare Smale, Caitlin Walker and Luke Heath.
Suzanne Kosowitz, the musical director, has done an outstanding job. The music from her seven-piece band was well-balanced and complemented the singing, rather than have the poor singers fighting to be heard (as so often happens). The band members were Tabitha Broughton (woodwind), Thomas Felton (Electric bass), Cameron Hayes and Harrison Love (Guitar), Jo Keenan and Daniel Slee (Keyboard) with Richard Pooley (Drums).
With a cast of ‘thousands’, each wearing around four intricate and stylish costumes each, wardrobe mistress Marjorie De Caux wisely enlisted the help of Shelly Miller, Rachel Vonk and Sophie Todd. The result was stunning, plenty of colour and quality, all based in that era three decades ago.
The choreography, thanks to Arianah Isaia skills, was inventive and fresh. With such a huge cast to handle, there is inevitably a couple of actors out of sync, however, this cast – right up to the final curtain – were smiling, fully charged and performing quite complex movements. Even the singers had intricate arm and hand movements. The dancing ranged from romantic waltz, boot scooting, soft shoe to tap dancing.
The sound, designed by Chris Hewitt, Greg Rusha and Dylan Borbeau, was brilliant. The train sound effects (Anita Bound, Lesley Broughton) amazing. The slight echo used on the voices gave them depth, and the ‘dreaded’ headsets actually worked perfectly.
Joy Miles and Shelly Miller’s pulsing light design was in sync with the music, with the choice of colours and brightness levels spot-on. Well done Lesley Broughton, Julie Hickling and Lachie Kessey.
The directors, Joe Isaia and his assistant Michele Acott, had to oversee dozens of youngsters and complicated teching, before they even got to the singing and dancing. Joe selected a great team and it showed. Most productions are lucky to get a couple of good singers and the rest are average. This production had at least a dozen talented singers, and most of them could dance beautifully too.
EVERY single actor was fully rehearsed, and performed immaculately. Congratulations.
This fun musical has drive, colour and vibrancy, try and catch it.
‘Dick Whittington’ is one of the oldest (600 years) and most loved pantomimes. This script was completed in 1994 by dancer and choreographer, Gail Lowe, but it is still fresh and fun-packed. Gail is the Principal of Phoenix Creative Arts schools in Dorking, on the south coast of England.
This Darlington Theatre Company production can be seen at the Marloo Theatre, Marloo Road in Greenmount on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings until 12th December, curtain up 7.30 pm, Sunday matinees 2.00 pm.
All of the flats, at the rear and side of the stage, were very pale, dappled blue. Colourful fruit barrows and their attendants stand at the side. There was the exterior of a small cottage. In another scene was the corner of a harem and a small swimming pool.
Thunder can be heard as beautiful Fairy Bowbells (Natasha Smith) strolls onto the stage, in search of her lost friend, Rosalind (Sophie David). She finds her pal locked in a cage, and as she releases her, there is a flash of lightning and the evil Esmerelda (Siobhán Vincent) – boo hiss – arrives. She cons Bowbells into giving her a magic neck talisman. With this new power, Esmeralda turns Rosalind into a black cat, Kitty (Tanya Doogan).
In the town square, Bosun Bowleg (David Seman) and two seamen (Adrian Ashman, Paul Presbury) are searching for a new captain for Alderman Fitzwarren’s (Paul Reed) boat. The Alderman’s atrocious cook, Sarah (Suzanna Matla) is destroying even more food in her oven. Two local idiots, ‘I’ (Jonathan Quinn) and ‘Spy’ (Angus Cummings) have been hired to follow and kidnap, Alice Fitzwarren (Melissa Bull), the Alderman’s daughter; however, Esmerelda’s press gang, the evil Rats (Sophie David – radiated stage presence, Thomas Outred, James Dick,) led by King Rat (David Bain) – boo, hiss – were also out to kidnap any able-looking man.
As handsome Dick Whittington (Channing Whitworth – good singing) is helping scout leader, Miss Peabody (Jacqui Ashman), he is captured and whisked away onto a ship. They set sail for Morocco but their boat sinks.
The extremely wealthy Sultan (Michael Hart – at his best) and his gorgeous daughter, the appropriately named Maneeta (Tyler Morgan) capture the crew. The Sultan’s butler, Jeeves (Timothy Presant) pleads on behalf of the captives, but the Sultan continues to admire the harem dancers (Jenny Trestrail, Natasha Smith, Rachel Vonk).
Will dangerous Esmerelda be stripped of her powers? Is there any happiness or love left in the World?
Marloo has one of the largest stages in the WA community theatre group, and although the small amount of set was of quality (George Boyd), the quantity let it down. The stage often looked stark. Whenever the chorus left the stage, the two or three actors remaining appeared lost in a void. Perhaps leaving a few ‘peasants’ loitering whilst the singers performed would have helped. There was good and speedy set changes by stage manager Hayley Derwort’s team of Jordan Tabb, Elanor Cooper-Ritter, Graham Dick, Michael Dick and Ashley Johnson. When the LED lighting changed from white to colour, it certainly helped make the scene more intimate and less clinical (lighting designed by Michael Hart and David Bain, operated by Mike Smale).
The lightning and explosion effects were MOST impressive, especially when topped off with Greg Rusha and Brendan Tobin’s inventive sound design.
The costumes (Rachel Vonk, Tracy Vonk, Sallie Ketteringham) were perfect for the characters, ranging from the beautiful gown of Fairy Bowbells, to the ‘horrible rats’ outfits. Then there was the diaphanous dress of the Sultan’s drag queen daughter, Maneeta – great fun. Then there is that very different camel (constructed by Annie Bramble) – not your typical Panto camel – it was meant to be ridiculous, matching the two mad characters inside.
‘Dick Whittington’ was enthusiastically directed by the talented Rachel Vonk. The intricate choreography was clever and well rehearsed, thanks to Joanne Neesham. The musical directors, Brendan Tobin and Amanda Minutillo gave us catchy tunes, with a sensible sound level to ‘accompany’ rather than take over the singer’s vocal cords. At times, perhaps too many different themes were taking place on stage simultaneously. Plenty of action is wonderful, but to have serious singing, with dancing and a comedic camel altogether can be a little overwhelming.
A thought :- Who was the Dame of this panto? What does a Dame normally look like?
When comedians crack jokes, the script can be first-class, but much of the success depends upon the style of delivery. The cast were word perfect and well-rehearsed, but often the lines were delivered as though they were part of a drama – clearly, at a good pace but in the wrong genre, so many of the jokes did not quite work correctly. The corny humour especially needs to be spelt out – as though telling a four year old a joke – with even a boom boom noise from the musical accompaniment or a simple bass drum just to drive home the point. Pantos are the one time that ‘ham’ is best.
‘Marloo’ can be relied on to entertain children of all ages. Your kids would love this.
‘It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To’ was the first full-length play written by the well-known comedy playwright, Elizabeth Coleman. Elizabeth had previously written several scripts for the ‘Flying Doctors’ in the mid-80s whilst still a NIDA student.
This very funny two and a half hour, dark comedy by the Darlington Theatre Players, can be seen at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount on a Friday and Saturday nights at 8.00 until Saturday 16th May. There are two Sunday matinees at 2.00 pm.
It is present day in the upmarket living and dining area of the Patterson’s home, somewhere in Australia.
Another magnificent set from George Boyd. The dining area is raised and the table is set for a special family meal. The sitting room area has a comfortable three-piece suite and jarrah furnishings. There are two arches leading to the bedrooms and front door. The director and his assistant, the technical crew, George Boyd, Michael Hart, Dennis Sutton and the stage crew, Graeme Dick and James Dick, combined efforts to build this stunning set. Lesley Sutton has carefully chosen props give a truly authentic ‘lived in’ finish.
Very good, well thought-out, lighting design operated by David Bain. Two large pendants light the area. David has taken the time to light passageways, and when the room door was opened the area beyond was lit up and not, as often seen, just a black void. Chantelle Pitt operated George Boyd’s sound design with precision.
A spotlight picks out a wall clock and dour Ron Patterson (Ray Egan). Ron explains how three months ago his specialist told him he is dying, and that he had three months to live. Ron took him at his word – not 3 and a bit months, but three months precisely to the minute. Today is the day; he has 111 minutes left to live. His wife Dawn (Siobhán Vincent) has decided to gather the family around for party pies and Pavlova, in an attempt to help Ron tie up the loose ends of his strained family life.
The lights dim, and seconds later we join Ron’s high flying, businessman son, Michael (Richard Hadler) and his elder daughter, Debbie (Belinda Djurdjevic), 35 and still not married! They are trying to decide why their father has called the family gathering. Could he have discovered that Michael is gay?
The younger daughter, Karen (Laura Williams) arrives, wearing a miniskirt, bright red shoes and a massive chip on her shoulders. She moans and complains, ‘why is her Dad wasting her time?’, but as soon as Ron and Dawn enter the room, her little pet-lip pouts and they tell her how wonderful she is, so much better than the two disappointing older children.
Before long, at Ted’s request, a young undertaker (Harry MacLennan) calls to check the funeral details.
This is a hilarious script, and with a laugh about every twenty seconds, it required a first class, inspired director and Brendan Tobin was just the man, most capably assisted by Rachel Vonk. The dialogue was perfectly delivered by a cast that thoroughly understood their characters. All of the personality traits were there, brought to life by great body language and facial expressions. The father’s stern and miserable outlook, the loving caring mother who went with the flow, the petulant and jealous Karen, Michael was anxious and impatient with Debbie trying to be patient despite being the one who is bottom of the family tree. The euphoric undertaker, Ron, just sat with an angelic smile. Rarely I have I seen such a perfectly integrated cast, everyone gets 10/10 for performances. The pace and chemistry outstanding. A massive compliment but thoroughly deserved.
Happy Birthday for tomorrow to director Brendan, you deserve a rest and be pampered.
The laughter did not let up for a moment; sit near the aisle you will need it to roll in. Try to catch it, funniest show in years.
‘After The Ball’ is a dramatic comedy from one of Australia’s most admired and award winning playwrights, David Williamson. David celebrated his 73rd birthday last week.
This wonderful observation of family life and attitudes in the 1960s was published in 1997 and first produced the same year. The play is thought to be semiautobiographical.
This fine production from the Darlington Theatre Players can be seen nightly at the Marloo Theatre, Marloo Road, Greenmount until 21st March. Curtain up at 8.00 pm.
The stage is divided into three areas. To the left is a hospital bed complete with drips etc. At the rear of the stage is a raised area representing the mother’s home, with black drapes for the walls. The simplicity of the scene is compensated for by the high quality of the props, ranging from an old record player to antique furniture (Carol Hall).
On the right is a turntable stage with a 1960s kitchen on one-half and on rotation a comfortable 1990s sitting room. Again, the extras make the scene, such as little touches as the calendar changing as the years go by. Another clever set from George Boyd.
The opening scene is an intensive care unit of the local hospital. An elderly woman takes a deep breath through her oxygen mask. This is Kate Macrae (Amanda Minutillo). Her loving and caring daughter, Judy Macrae (Kerri-Anne Mulley) and her son, who has travelled from France to see her, visit the mother. The son, Stephen Macrae (Paul Reed) is more interested in getting back home, than talking to his matriarchal mother. Even on her deathbed, Kate is not giving up on being the boss.
As they, sit chatting in the ward, Kate recalls her now departed, racially bigoted and politically one-eyed husband, Ron. The mother, despite having suffered at his hand for years, stills seems to show affection for the bully.
Later at the mother’s home, the siblings are going through old photos and letters in preparation for her passing. As they talk, there is a flashback to the stormy lifestyle in their 1963 childhood home, where the father Ron Macrae (Richard Milner) is trying to run rehearsals for a community play. A younger Kate Macrae (Irma McCullen) is trying to help a very nervous, incompetent actress, Maureen Donahue (Alyssa Burton – hilarious) struggle through her lines. Director, Ron is far too busy admiring the many ‘qualities’ of another actress, Claire (Rachel Bartlett).
A couple of years later, in 1965, as the family are eating their breakfast, the father is ranting as usual and the young son, Stephen Macrae (Ben Constantin) tells his kid sister, Judy Macrae (Elanor Cooper-Ritter) that he is going to leave home and his Uni course, travel abroad and become a film director.
Does the passing of the years mellow this family?
As the scenes are many (two dozen) and quite short, I suspect that this play was written with TV or cinema in mind, with simple intercutting between scenes. Despite clever set design and fast changes by the crew, the flow was inevitably broken up.
David Bain operated both Greg Rusha’s sound design, and Michael Hart’s intricate lighting design.
Director Hayley Derwort and her assistant Rachel Vonk are two of Marloo’s younger members, both of them directing for the first time. They were faced with a large number of very different characters in the script, but this did not faze them, the interaction between the actors, the pace and the chemistry all worked well. The acting was such that the lady behind me in the audience kept forgetting it was a play, and became quite irate at the attitude of the father – especially to immigration – and to the son’s feelings for his mother, with comments like ‘He can’t say that!’ and ‘That is terrible!’. A sure sign that the cast and directing are working as one. A very good first stab at direction, the slickness will come after a few shows.
This play is very different to David Williamson’s normal, easy-going, fun plays. It is a wonderful, punchy observation of family life, combined with the outdated viewpoints; it is amazing how much opinions have changed for the better in just a couple of decades. We also get a brief glimpse at the employment conditions of the 60s. The younger Kate Macrae (Irma McCullen) captured the wife’s torment perfectly and her spar with Stephen (Ben) is one of the play’s highlights.
Rachel was also responsible for the costumes, which demanded styles from several eras, from 1960s flares and Paisley, to the attire of the 2000s. Her clever outfits described the fashion and personality of the wearer instantly.
Certainly worth seeing. There are plenty of laughs, but with many occasions where you will cringe at the diabolical dialogue. Very well acted, another winning production from Marloo.
‘The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of ‘Macbeth’’ must be one of the longest play titles ever. The comedy is written by English barrister, Walter Zerlin Jnr. with his co-writer, David McGillivray who have written a whole series based on the life in a community theatre group. The plays are zany, with a similar ‘stupid’ humour to the cinema’s ‘Carry On’ series.
This fine 90-minute production is being presented by the Darlington Theatre Players at the Marloo Theatre, Marloo Road, Greenmount on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8.00 until Saturday 19th July.
Reflecting the (deliberate) amateur theme of the play, the rough-hewn set (built by John Hillan) comprises sandstone castle walls, with a series of arches across the rear of the stage. These arches face towards the rear of the stage, as the audience find themselves ‘on the stage’ watching the actors perform to their audience – the backcloth.
Pianist Gwynneth (Marjorie De Caux) warms up the audience with a burst of ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘Tequila’, an unusual choice for ‘Macbeth’, but as we are to find out, nothing in a Farndale, play is usual.
Onto the stage strides Mrs Reece (Neroli Burton) the proud director of this production. This haughty thespian seems unaware of the true inadequacy of her cast and crew. She introduces the audience to a special guest; he is Mr Peach (Ray Egan), an adjudicator for a prestigious acting competition, who will oversee the play.
The curtains open, catching the stage hand, Henry (Rodney Stickells-Palmer) trying to organise the three witches (Alyssa Burton, Rachel Vonk, Taneal Thompson) who are late for their entrance. To make things worse, one of the witches has lost her voice. Then the stage manager, David (Richard Coleman) discovers that Lady Macbeth has called in sick, the performance has started; before he knew what had hit him, Henry was volunteered for the part.
The play progresses and we see Macbeth (Siobhan Vincent) witness an original entrance for the ghost of Banquo (Fi Livings).
How will Mr Peach see this theatrical disaster?
Gail Palmer, the director, and her assistant Marjorie De Caux have chosen a VERY difficult genre to produce. This series of comedies is famous for failing and being un-funny, but Gail has captured the subtleties of the style and skilfully directed her talented cast to give a very dry, humour filled performance. The blunderings are perfectly carried out, appearing as accidents and NOT with the boom-boom calamities of a pantomime. To make such chaos succeed, every member of the cast must capture their very different personalities and appear to go their own separate ways – this every member did, flawlessly.
The techs have their ‘mistakes’ down to a split second, with sound effects (Greg Rusha) and lighting (Michael Hart) cues out of sync. The costume girls (Marjorie De Caux and Sallie Ketteringham) and the props arrangers had their work really cut out. The costumes were varied and unusual, the props weird and wonderful, but both gave the audience plenty of laughs. Stage managers, David Bain and George Boyd, had several crazy moments operating the strange props.
This play may not be everyone’s type of humour, but it will win your admiration. To make anything, whether magic, slapstick or blundering look unrehearsed, it requires a huge amount of practice; this team were at their very best when delivering the laughs.
‘Trilogy’ is Marloo’s season of superb, locally written, One Act Plays. The performances can be seen at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount, they run each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening at 8.00 pm until Saturday 14th September. There is one Sunday matinée, it ison Father’s Day the 1st September.
‘Political Correction’ (40-minutes), is a clever comedy / thriller, written by mathematician James Forte. James is part of this year’s Black Swan Writers’ development course. The play was directed by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce who was assisted by the playwright, James Forte.
In a comfortable suburban home, live two politically active teenagers; the slightly nervous Colin (Harrison ‘Harry’ MacLennan) and his temptress sister, Sarah (Melissa Scott). Their parents, a chemistry professor and his wife are out for the evening, and so the teenagers have taken the opportunity to invite local politician, Frank Armstrong (Alex Sutton) around to the house under the pretence of arranging a research grant for the father.
What is the true reason for the invitation?
Written satirically in parts like, ‘Yes Prime Minister’, with all of the warped political lies, this very funny play is particularly relevant at the moment. It is a novel idea that has been well constructed. The audience loved the sugar-coated hypocrisy, spontaneously applauding some of the lines that could have come straight from the TV’s evening news. The three actors were all excellent, with Alex convincingly playing a man twice his age.
‘Holly and Ivy’ (40-minutes) is a heart wrenching play written by WAAPA lecturer Noel O’Neill. It is exactly 5 years since I first saw this play at the Rechabites Hall with the same actresses playing Holly and Ivy. This production was directed by ‘the cast’, and what a magnificent job they did.
It is Christmas Eve in a small town in central Scotland (Broxburn?). Ivy (Sandra Sando) is making a cup of tea for heryounger sister, Holly (Catriona M. Coe) who has just arrived at the family home for the funeral of their mother.
Ivy is grieving deeply and is somewhat annoyed by the ‘couldn’t care’ attitude of her sister. An argument starts as the sibling rivalry reignites. Both women have a lot to get off their chest, and they are not going to hold back. However, Tommy (Ray Egan) an old friend of their Mum arrives, intoxicated as ever, and cramps their belligerent style.
Can the family ever be the same again?
This poignant play has won many richly deserved awards since its first production. It is a real tear-jerker. The two sisters captured their parts perfectly, and with such a wonderfully true to life script, the whole story was a delight. We all know families just like this one. Ray was impressive with his Scottish accent matching the two girls perfectly. A memorable play, beautifully presented.
‘La Divina Speaks’ (35-minutes) is the life story of Maria Callas, brought to life on the page by award winning writer Douglas Sutherland-Bruce and Elisa Wilson. Douglas then went on to direct this piece.
It is 1972 and we join Maria Callas (Elisa Wilson) as she finishes a passion filled passage from Puccini’s ‘Tosca’. Dressed in a stunning peacock blue satin dress, and dripping with jewels, she takes her bow.
We then join her after the show at her home in Long Island, where Maria tells us of her youth. How as a dowdy, fat, pimply girl with thick myopic glasses she had to perform for her parents in Greece. Then the war arrived and the family was split up.
Her fascinating, and at times, gripping tale takes us through her love affairs and family dramas. She ‘knew’ (in the Biblical sense) many famous people of the era, from soldiers to the extremely rich.
I don’t need to say that the tremendous delivery by WAAPA graduate and International opera soprano, Elisa Wilson, was jaw dropping. Not surprisingly, Elisa was a winner of a prestigious Armstrong-Martin Opera Scholarship. Delivering an emotional song from an opera with suchskill and tenderness is a challenge beyond most performers, but to then do a half hour monologue which entranced the audience and had them hanging onto every word of the story, is another difficult art in itself.
The back stage team of Marjorie DeCaux (costumes), sound (Greg Rusha), lighting (Michael Hart, Hayley Dewort and David Bain) excelled.
How often do we see trilogies when one play will be good, one average and the third diabolical? Here we have three superbly written plays, well directed and top notch acting. A really special night at the theatre.
‘One-Act Season 2017’. These four, very varied plays are being skilfully presented by the Darlington Theatre Players, on Friday and Saturday evenings until the 9th of September. There is one matinée on Sunday 3rd – a special Father’s Day treat – at the comfortable, Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, in Greenmount.
‘The Mystery at Dunbar Mansion’ was written by an American, Joe Thompson, in a similar style to the ‘The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate’ series. This very funny 15-minute play is being presented by the Darlington Young Players. The actors are aged between 11 and 18, although most were under 15 years.
The scene is a modern amateur group’s play, being presented on the set of an old mansion hallway, about 1930. There are few props, only a few chairs.
A narrator (Tabitha Holt) sits in a comfortable armchair at the side of the stage apron.
Due to a raging storm (hilariously produced by Lucy Coates), the guests at creepy Dunbar Mansion are without electricity, and coping with candles. Then by chance, the slightly dim-witted Inspector Wallingford (Noah Watkins) takes shelter in the house.
When the housemaid (Sophie David) finds the dead body of a man in a smart suit (Chelsey Ward), she immediately tells her bosses, intelligent young Yvonne (Skylah Hounsham) and Yvonne’s confused Granny (Charlotte McCullen) who misinterprets every sentence.
Who is the murderer?
This very funny comedy called for a subtle, hammy acting style. There is a big difference between actors who are hams, and those injecting just the correct amount of ham. Even straight comedy can be tricky for youngsters to present, and tongue in cheek humour like this often fails, but under the guidance of director Rachel Vonk, this troupe conquered the understated presentation very well, with excellent timing.
The idea was to depict actors in a play that had had very little – if any – rehearsal. The stage manager (Belinda Beatty) has to fight to keep up with ‘unexpected’ crises, and unusual prop demands – thrown in at the last minute. The actors’ dry approach gave the audience plenty of belly laughs. Even the corpse managed to briefly come to life, in order to answer a mobile ‘phone call.
Very well done.
‘He Said and She Said’ was written by Alice Gerstenberg, an American feminist and activist, who was born in 1885.
The scene is in a stately home during World War 1, around 1917. Guests are gathering.
The set comprises a studded, Chesterfield armchair, a matching bench settee and a large drinks table.
Enid (Suzy Wakeling) and her husband Felix (Blake Prosser) have decided to invite a few friends around for cocktails. The first to arrive is Mrs Packard (Martha Wood), who, being an exceptionally good friend, feels it is only correct to tell Enid about the malicious gossip going around about her husband.
When Enid’s best school friend, Diana Chesbrough (Shannon Pennell) arrives, Mrs Packard thinks it only right to put her too in the picture, involving the village gossip and scandalous happenings.
Beautiful costumes (Marjorie De Caux), well fitted, and presented with appropriate jewellery.
In real life, gossip consists of a multitude of whispered, broken sentences, with the facts never quite stated, but simply implied. The play’s dialogue structure is very clever, but must have been a major challenge to learn and present. Despite this complication, director Taneal Thompson adeptly steered the actors, keeping the pace flowing well. The cast delivered their lines without fault, whilst adopting a slight crouching, gossiping stance. Mrs Packard had a snobbish, bold delivery, and the two school friends were wonderful as the confused and abused.
An unusual, fresh play. Great fun.
‘Just a Straight Man’ was written in 2012 by Australian playwrights, Rob Smith and John Mawson. This couple have written many award winning, 45-minute plays, with this being one of their best.
This play was performed in front of the proscenium curtain. The scene however was supposed to be just behind the curtains of a theatre, waiting for them to open for the duo’s act to begin.
There was a high barstool, a chair and some musical equipment.
Trevor and Barney have been a successful comedy act for decades. As they prepare for another night at the Riviera Club, fast talking Barney (Benedict Chau) feels the time has come to tell his scriptwriting partner, Trevor (Ryan Marano) what a weight he is around his neck.
Is Trevor truly holding Barney back from the REAL fame he deserves?
Before the curtain rises on another performance, could Trevor and Barney possibly be at a point in their partnership that is beyond hope?
This is director Guy Jackson’s first stint at directing, and what an outstanding success. With a long dialogue, it is difficult to build up tension and retain the audience’s interest; but with plenty of movement and wonderful body language, this powerful drama unfolds. The two performers were exceptional, as the sympathy, mood, and power repeatedly swung from one man to another.
Benedict was amazing as the smarmy egotist niggling at the hidden faults in Trevor’s character. One of the very best short plays this year.
‘Dinner For One’ was written by Southport born, Lauri(e) Wylie who died 12 years before it was first presented on TV; so he never really knew of the play’s massive success. The black and white, TV version was filmed in Germany in 1963 by a UK team, and of course starred Grimsby comedian, Freddie Frinton – a teetotaller! This 18-minute treasure has been shown on German television every single Christmas for half a century. Sadly, Freddie died a couple of weeks before being due to shoot a colour version in 1968.
The scene is a wealthy mansion, about 1930. The set has a serving table at the edge of the stage. There is a large mahogany dining table with matching chairs. The table is set for five, with the finest quality crockery and cutlery. Crystal wine glasses and a vase of flowers finish the setting. There is a staircase leading off stage.
The delightful props for all plays were by Lesley Sutton.
Miss Sophie (Veronica Fourie) enters the dining room for her celebratory 90th birthday dinner. Her Butler, James (Ray Egan), slides out the elegant carver chair, helping Miss Sophie to be seated. For years, Miss Sophie regularly entertained four of her treasured gentlemen friends. However, they have passed on, and only her faithful butler is there to share this special occasion, but she is determined to relive the evenings of the past.
In order to make Miss Sophie feel as though her friends are with her, James, toasts and drinks all of the guests’ drinks. Not a wise move.
I have seen actor and director Ray Egan perform this hilarious comedy a couple of times before; he gets better every time! This act is universally recognised as one of the theatre’s funniest sketches, and Ray’s brilliant madness is outstanding in contrast to the dignity of Veronica’s Miss Sophie. Ray acting talent with this part, is arguably as good as Freddie Frinton’s performance. Half the audience had not seen this act before, and their tears were flowing as they struggled to laugh and breathe without missing a second of the performance.
I have seen this comedy a dozen times and still love every second. Many congratulations.
The lighting was by Michael Hart, and the sound by Guy Jackson and Rachel Vonk. A simple but well designed, colourful programme by Sally Ketteringham and Docuprint gave us all of the details.
Where else could you get four, quality, contrasting plays for such a reasonable price? Try to catch this special night out which is selling very quickly.
DEAF and HARD OF HEARING Wednesday 22nd June enjoy Terry Pratchett’s ‘Wyrd Sisters’ with AUSLAN SIGNING by Christy Filipich
It is Mediaeval England. There are several, very different scenes. The flats, which cover the full width of the stage, are built on castors so they can rotate. Some flats are like books with a few pages on each revolve. Owen Davis’s scenery was bright, quirky and superbly built. Between scenes, 4 or 5 stagehands could make the change in seconds; even when the crown room with a dais and two thrones was turned into the witches kitchen, with workbench, two armchairs and a table – 8 seconds! That must be one of the best-organised and speediest crews ever (stage manager David Bain, ASM Belinda Beatty, James Scott, Guy Jackson). The props were unusual and very demanding on the poor Lesley Sutton.The lighting design (Mike Smale) was complex and well planned, picking out the actors as they moved around the stage. The two follow spots were operated by Emma Dee and Charlie Montgomery. The sound effects (Alice Carroll) were crisp and perfectly cued – a few zany effects brought belly laughs.The costumes ranged from witch Ogg’s tat, to Lady Felmet’s gown, from the soldiers’ uniforms to the town’s peasants. A great deal of thought had been carefully sewn into every garment. Marjorie DeCaux at her very best.
To the sound of thunder we meet the three witches, the Wyrd Sisters; they are the highly regarded and tough old bird, Granny Weatherwax (Fi Livings), mother of fifteen Nanny Ogg (Chantelle Pitt), and Magrat Garlick (Alisha Napier), an apprentice witch who believes in the old fashioned methods of magic involving covens and cauldrons. They are discussing the recent murder of King Verence (Rachel Vonk). The Wyrd Sisters see a peasant (Verity Lux) fleeing the evil Duke Felmet (Ryan Marano), who has the Lady Macbeth syndrome of constantly cleaning his hands. Now that Felmet has become King, his cruel, mercenary wife, Lady Felmet (Taneal Thompson) demands that the taxes are collected. The peasant has in her breadbasket a baby – the newly born prince, who is rightful heir to the throne. However, a bowman (Thomas Outred) shoots the peasant and the witches rescue the infant, Tomjon. They give him to a childless, loving couple of touring actors, Mr Vitoller (Ryan Marano) and Mrs Vitoller (Kathleen ‘Martha’ Nyland). Whilst in their kitchen, the witches are visited by a Demon (Molly O’Hehir) who warns them of the troubles ahead. The witches realise that it will be at least 15 years before the prince will be able to rule, so with advanced magic, they travel forward in time.Felmet sends the court Fool (Billy Darlington – delightful) to find the performers’ troupe, and Tomjon (Lochland Baynham) who is now a talented actor. The court jester sees Magrat being robbed by a conman (Aryan Menon) saves her and falls in love. Duke Felmet fears Tomjon will take his rightful place as King, so he orders a playwright Hwel (Suzy June Wakeling) to weaken the witches powers by writing a play that mocks them. The witches trick their way past the guards (Verity Bruce, Sabrina O’Brien) at the castle gate. The witches meet the ghost of the King who tells them how Felmet stabbed him. Felmet sends out his soldiers to capture the crones, but instead they encounter a set of actors dressed as witches (Rosemary Bruce, Sabrina O’Brien, Martha Nyland, Kira Pearce). Felmet’s Sergeant (Kayleigh Lux) catches the real witches, and his soldiers (Kira Pearce, Glenda Napier) throw them into prison.
Will the witches escape? What will happen to the Duke and Lady Felmet? Will Tomjon become King?
The script has numerous amusing links to Shakespeare’s plays, especially ‘Macbeth’.I think this may be the first major production directed by Harrison MacLennan, who was ably assisted here by Guy Jackson. With a massive cast to handle and some actors as young as 12 yrs. (Molly O’Hehir – a star in the making?), I was expecting the show to stagger through. However, EVERY member of the cast was superbly rehearsed and totally focused. There were no vacant faces when other actors were talking, and everyone acted with their bodies and faces. Good, solid and natural performances from this young team. The magnificent witches had some hilarious lines, delivered with perfect comedic timing.The entrances and exits worked smoothly, even when a dozen actors were involved.This is a complex script, and so was a major undertaking; but the direction is so clear and the performances so confident that children from 8 yrs. and up will enjoy the madness. Great fun.
‘Scrooge the Panto’ is another traditional pantomime by Limelight Scripts (a UK specialist company), based on Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. This storyline has been given a fun Perth theme.
Because the original story was named ‘a Carol’, Dickens preferred to think of the book’s five chapters as being musical ‘Staves’. The first run of the book, bound in Moroccan leather, was sold for $45 a copy (today’s prices). Six thousand copies sold in a few weeks, however, even after seventh editions, Dickens made very little money from the book, being ripped off by a real-life Scrooge on the way. This had also happened to him earlier with ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’.
This lively and hilarious pantomime is two-and-a-quarter hours of guaranteed merriment. The show is being presented by The Darlington Theatre Players at the Marloo Theatre, Marloo Road, Greenmount every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening at 7.30 until Saturday 10th December. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm.
The main set is the office of Scrooge’s Chocolate Factory, with shelves of books and pictures of the many lollies made there. Other vivid scenes include Jan Butty’s kitchen, a graveyard, and of course Scrooge’s meagre bedroom. The colourful sets were designed by George Boyd, and the numerous props provided by Lesley Sutton.
The full sized – 3-metre – flats and furnishings for each scene were changed silently and speedily under the supervision of Stage Manager Rob Warner, aided by his assistants David Bain and Belinda Beatty. The backstage ‘muscle’ was Guy Jackson, Adrian Ashman and Luke Miller.
Author, Charles Dickens (Allan Lai) takes us into the office of a Chocolate Factory and points out the miserly owner, Ebenezer Scrooge (Richard Hadler). Since Ebenezer’s partner, the friendly and well-loved Jacob Marley (Timothy Presant) had died several years earlier, the work conditions at the factory have been getting increasingly miserable. The factory shop steward, Bob Cratchit (Peter White) has been paid minimal wages for decades by Scrooge. Cratchit lives in one of Scrooge’s crumbling houses with his dear wife, Mrs Cratchit (Sarah White) and their daughters, Susan (Molly O’Hehir) and Katy (Sophie David). They also have a weak and disabled son, Tiny Tim (Joshua White).
Scrooge announces to his staff (Marjorie De Caux, Katherine Leevers, Shelly Miller) that they must come into work as normal on Christmas Day. The factory cook, Jan Butty (Jacqui Warner – fabulous) and her two useless, but hilarious assistants, Dough (Rachel Vonk) and Nut (Suzy June Wakeling) decide to cheer up their boss by baking him a cake.
Just as he is about to go home, Bob answers the office door to two charity workers, Shirley (Jacqui Ashman) and Marjory (Lee Thompson), who are asking for donations for the poor. As they leave, Scrooge’s nephew, Fred (Blake Prosser) and his girlfriend, Elizabeth (Simone Willis) call around to invite Scrooge to their home for Christmas dinner – the reply is naturally ‘bah humbug’.
On Christmas Eve, as the clock is striking midnight, Scrooge climbs into bed. Soon he is asleep. In his dreams, he meets the Ghost of Christmas Past (Ray Egan), who shows him the happiness that once surrounded him as a child. He sees his school friend, Jacob Marley (Caitlyn Moloney) trying to encourage young Ebenezer (Timothy Zuiddam) to enjoy himself. Then, years later as a young man, Scrooge (Guy Jackson) is seen spending his Christmas doing bookwork and trying to make more money. Even a visit from his childhood sweetheart, Belle (Natasha Smith, under-studied by Katherine Leevers) fails to make him happy.
In a creepy sequence, Scrooge sees the people that he has treated badly, led by Head Spook (Tim Ward) and his Spook team (Jana Gardner, Lilly Miller, Niamh O’Herir, Sam White, Sarah Zuiddam) rising from their graves and dancing before him. (The first few seconds of this scene may disturb very young children, who have not experienced Halloween fun).
The nightmare continues as the Spirit of Christmas Present (Suzanna Matla) appears in a beautiful white fur coat; she shows Scrooge the sadness and poverty of the Cratchit’s home. The Spirit of Christmas Future (Luke Miller) then arrives and demonstrates to Scrooge what a difference he could make to his workers’ lives.
Scrooge goes into the street where he meets a paperboy (Jacob Clayton – very good) and asks him to buy a giant turkey from Mr Brisket, the butcher (Adrian Ashman), and then take it to the Cratchit household.
Could life be changing for this wretched old miser?
Choreographer, Rachel Vonk has done a wonderful job with such a large and young cast. With guidance of the experienced directors, Amanda Minutillo and Sallie Ketteringham, Rachel has mingled some of the performers amongst the audience, encouraging punter involvement. Well-rehearsed dancing and singing, accompanied by the catchy, perfectly balanced, pre-recorded tracks from Tony Perry, made specially to the directors’ requirements.
Richard Hadler was brilliant as Scrooge, insulting the audience and drawing plenty of boos and hisses banter throughout.
As Fezziwig, Luke Miller gave an energetic dance performance in the Gangnam style sequence. Little Lilly Miller, whilst very young, was faultless.
The singer of the evening was Tiny Tim (Joshua White), who must be congratulated on his beautiful rendition of ‘Where is Love?’ from ‘Oliver’, which he sang – unaccompanied – with great emotion and perfectly in tune. The sound designer for this fast moving complex show was Tony Perry, with Greg Rusha operating the desk. Great lighting from designer Mike Smale.
There must have been around a eighty costumes for this colourful show, but costume designers, Marjorie De Caux and Shelly Miller, along with their seamstresses gave us a real visual treat.
This really is a show for ALL of the family. Great songs, colour, jokes, slapstick and dancing, what more could one ask for? Another Marloo triumph.
‘Basin Street Blues’ is an adult musical, written by Mundaring ex-Councillor, John Beaton. John was a member of the State Executive at the Australian Writers’ Guild, and a lecturer in Screen topics at Curtin, Murdoch and WAAPA, receiving a WA Screen Industry Award for his Outstanding Contribution.
John, who has been a jazz pianist for 50 years, named his play after Spencer Williams’ 1926 Dixieland song, ‘Basin Street Blues’, made famous two years later by Louis Armstrong.
In 1897, New Orleans turned its Storyville Street into an area for illegal, but accepted, prostitution. Being near the French Quarter, it became known as Rue Bassin (Basin Street), due to the land shape enclosed by the peripheral, surrounding canal.
The Darlington Theatre Players present this two hour, lively musical spectacular at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount. Performances start at 8.00 pm every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday until the 8th August. There are Sunday matinees at 2.00 pm.
The set was another ‘George Boyd special’ – does this man ever sleep? The effect was dazzling. It was the interior of a brothel, ‘The Rising Sun’, in New Orleans in 1917. The walls are dark burgundy, and a carpeted staircase on the right, went up to the working girls’ bedrooms. The band is situated in view at the back of the stage.
With George’s sets, when the curtains open, it is the little finishing details that make the audience gasp; such as the stair newell posts have carved lions on the top, the stained glass sunrise above the main door, nothing is too much effort. The gas lamps and other wonderful props (Lesley Sutton, Liz Rusha) gave the final touch of quality.
The lighting design (Mike Hart) was magnificent, truly a professional standard. David Bain and Mike Smale’s operation was sensitive and perfectly timed e.g. the lighting of the lamps really looked as though the gas mantles were warming up. The sound design for the street scene was at a perfect level, and gave excellent atmosphere (designer Greg Rusha, operated by Greg and Leighton Hughes).
The stage is in darkness, a shadowy figure can be seen descending the stairs with a lit wax taper in her hand, it is Pearl (Kylie Isaia); one of the bordello’s most experienced working girls. No sooner had she unlocked the main door, than her so-called boyfriend, a bullying pimp, Frank (Pearce Patrick-McGrogan) burst in demanding his cut of Pearl’s earning. His cut being most of what she had. The Madame of the house, Lottie (Amanda Minutillo) seemed to have little sympathy; but the reliable bouncer, Wash (Richard Mananga) soon threw ‘The Dude’ out. It was easy to see that Tony (Toby Millar), the piano player felt deeply for Pearl.
A lusty customer (Robert Beaton) tried to catch the eye of young Rita (Caitlyn Hughes), but even the impecunious old man (David Zuiddam) across the room seemed to being having more success with the girls.
When a highly intelligent and attractive virgin, 16 yr-old Josie (Sarah Jackson) arrives, Lottie asks her to take over. Not even wealthy rail worker, Gus (Dowal Hall) who comes in for his weekly constitution, could he get pure Josie. Thankfully, he seems happy with the sassy Lulu (Rachel Vonk – wild) instead. On the other hand, when the Mayor (Iain Martin – great ukulele solo) arrives for some light entertainment – watching the slinky, sexy dancing girls (Jessie Ou Yang, Jordan Tabb) will Josie succumb? Or could it be the wealthy French businessman, Auguste (Paul Reed) and his sexually inexperienced son, Henri (Radomir Kobryn-Colleti) who wins her body?
The director, Aarne Neeme, has had a lifetime in the theatre. He has been in a senior position at the Octagon, Playhouse, Hole-in-the-Wall and even been Head of Acting at WAAPA, so it is little wonder that he was recently awarded the Order of Australia. Here, Aarne is assisted by Lee Thompson, the pair giving us a truly lively and uplifting show. The cast were coordinated and retained their powerful deliveries throughout this energy-filled show. Most of the songs were instantly recognisable, and pleasantly performed.
Choreographer Premala D. Sangarananda has learnt her art in several countries, and as a result demands the very best from her dancers. They waltzed, skipped, seductively tempted the audience, leapt, high kicked – those poor girls really had to work, but they smiled for every second and were magnificent, congrats to the whole team. The costumes (Marjorie DeCaux, Rachel Vonk) were delightful, from the simple cotton chemises and long frilly drawers, to The Madame’s glittering designer gown. Topped off with their crowning glories, hairstyles and makeup by Nicole Jelly.
Jazz tends to be one of these musical genres that people can take or leave. Mention jazz and folk will think of discordant, cacophonous music, with everyone in the band playing a different refrain, whilst you try to spot the tune. This band, under the musical direction of Iain Martin and John Beaton, gave the audience many enjoyable melodies, most with a light, sleazy, Dixie / Ragtime jazz foundation.
The highly experienced band comprised, on brass, Rob Anderson (trumpet) and Steven Martin (trombone) giving the authentic rasping depth of the blues. Stuart Campbell (saxophone) and Wayne Griffiths (clarinet) joined them on woodwind, then there was John Lee (banjo), John Perry (bass) and Richard Pooley (drums).
With an old upright piano centre stage, being ‘played’ by ‘Tony’; Radomir Kobryn-Colleti was actually playing another keyboard hidden behind the piano. A very convincing ‘duet’.
The final number ‘House of the Rising Sun’ was sung beautifully by ‘Pearl’, delivered from the heart and doubtlessly caused a few audience tears as it reflected on this prostitute’s life story.
This review refers to the opening night performance, a packed house. Not surprisingly, I understand that almost the whole season of this very different play, has already been sold out, so be quick or miss out. A very well thought out and presented musical. Top-quality.
‘One-Act Season’ is a collection of two short plays and a recitation, being presented by the Darlington Theatre Players, at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount. The two and a half hour performances can be seen on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8.00, the season runs until Saturday 12th September; there is one matinee on Sunday 6th September at 2.00 pm.
The lighting for all of the plays was designed by Michael Hart and operated by Ryan Perrin. David Bain and Greg Rusha created the sound effects, there was one beauty that brought the house down.
‘The Tip of the Spear’ is an engrossing monologue from the pen of James Forte. Although James has written around two dozen plays, this is the first based on an actual event. It is the tale of an army Glider Regiment’s mission in June 1944. It has been described as the most daring and clever piece of flying in the whole of World War ll, as carried out by Staff-Sergeant Jim Wallwork, who died only a couple of years ago, aged 93.
The star of the play, Ray Egan, directed the piece himself.
This intriguing and masterly monologue premiered at the Old Mill Theatre, on Wednesday and Thursday nights this week to rapturous applause.
The scene is a local bar, just after a Veterans’ parade.
An ex-army serviceman in a smart suit, proudly wearing his red service beret, and with a beer in hand, takes a seat at a pub table. With a wistful look on his face, he starts to relate the amazing story of his night mission to destroy Pegasus Bridge.
Ray is an extraordinary actor. Famous for his madcap ‘Dinner for One’; he now turns on the pathos, and with tears in his eyes, he recalls the ghastly happenings of that astonishing night. A magical performance.
‘When Darcy Rode the Mule’ a yarn written by Banjo Patterson.
An Australian farmer strolls on (Ray Egan) and in Strine, apologises for the Pommy bastard who has just been on, and now he is going to tell the story of a true Aussie.
Ray then gave us another side of his talents, as he made the audience chuckle with his rendition of Banjo’s observations.
‘Chinamen’ a one-act farce from British playwright, Michael Frayn’s four play volume ‘The Two of Us’. Frayn was most famous as a political reporter for the UK ‘Observer’ newspaper; however, his translations of Chekov’s plays are the most popular in the theatre.
The title of this presentation is, by today’s standards, horrifyingly ‘politically incorrect’.
It was as the playwright watched the offstage antics of this farce that inspired Frayn’s hilarious play, the recently seen, ‘Noises Off’.
The scene is a dining room with table and several chairs. The table is laid for a dinner party. There are two doors stage right and one to the left Set design by Harry MacLennan.
This play has the unusual premise that only two actors play all of the characters. This means that only two people can be on the stage at any time!
A young, London couple, Jo (Chantelle Pitt) and Stephen (Paul Reed) are having a dinner party. Jo has asked her best friend Bee around for a meal; she told Stephen, but typical male, he did not hear or pay attention to an important detail.
When Stephen meets Barney in the street, he says how much he is looking forward to catching up on the news, and that the meal is planned for 8.00 that evening. However, Stephen did not realise that Bee and Barney were no longer married, and that Bee was actually going to bring her new, longhaired, hippy partner, Alex, for the meal.
On hearing of Stephen’s blunder, Jo is petrified that estranged Barney will turn up and have a tantrum with Bee’s new partner.
How will Jo and Stephen keep them apart? Will they clash?
Director, Harry MacLennan has taken on a most difficult and complex play to present. He cleared the first hurdle perfectly, by finding two talented actors who could keep a straight face whilst pandemonium ensued.
Harrison then had to convey the impression that the various guests who passed through the room, were in still the areas around the central dining room. This he conquered with the aid of his stage managers, Jordan Tabb and Adrian Ashman, by having them knock and pull at doors, handing out wineglasses, and signalling – just out of sight – from off stage.
The actors had to stand in doorways, pretending to argue and chat with each other, when in fact the other performer may be in the wings on the opposite side of the stage, changing into another character’s costume ready for the next entrance. Sounds complex? You bet it was for the actors, but astonishingly simple for the audience to follow. This mayhem went on for the full 40 minutes of the play, with not a flicker of stress on the actors’ faces as they flawlessly changed persona.
Very clever. Congratulations to all concerned.
Marloo had a few problems gathering and staging their selection, but in the end, they have come up with a well-appreciated, varied selection. Their only problem now is to attract the crowds. With eight shows opening on the same night, many of them being for a very short season, the audiences are sadly left in a quandary – which show they are going to miss?
This programme has everything, a tale of bravery and tragedy, a light-hearted Aussie yarn and a unique farce, all very well produced and acted.
‘Kiss me Kate’ has a similar storyline to William Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’; indeed, it is about a New York theatre company putting on a production of ‘The Shrew’ showing the parallels in the stories as it goes. It was rewritten in the contemporary style (‘contemporary’ being the end of World War II) by authors Bella and Sam Spewack. Cole Porter added the music and lyrics later.
After a run of 1,000 nights on Broadway, it swept the board at the 1949 Tonys, then went on to win another dozen Tony Awards for the revivals in the years that followed. A film was made in 1953, starring Howard Keel. This was MGM’s first 3-D musical in MIRACULOUS stereo!
If you are over 30 then you will know a couple of the songs, over 50 and you will be singing along with half a dozen tunes that you did not really know came from a musical, such as ‘Wunderbar’, ‘We Open in Venice’, ‘I Hate Men’ and ‘Too Darn Hot’.
Many congratulations to Gwyne Marshall on her rare award from the ITA, for her services to community theatre. Most deserving.
The Darlington Theatre Players are proudly presenting this spectacular musical at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount at 8.00 pm on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until 13th December. Sunday matinees are on Sunday 30th and 7th at 2.00 pm.
A production of a musical is about to open, and the cast are warming up in the wings. Hattie (Eileen Coleman) steps forward and gives a rip roaring rendition of ‘Another Op’nin’, Another Show’ as the wardrobe mistress (Rachel Vonk) wheels in a rack of costumes.
However, for the show’s arrogant director and male lead, Fred Graham (Chris Gerrish – see below), and the leading lady, Fred’s famous ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi (Katherine Freind) things are about to get overheated. Fred is now in love with man magnet, Lois Lane (Nyree Hughes). Lois, as well having a laugh like a horse, already has a steady boyfriend, gambler Bill (Sean Yeo).
The stage manager (David Seman) gives a 5-minute call, just as two debt-collecting, dapper gangsters (Keith Scrivens, Alex Markham – hilarious team work) appear at the theatre door. It seems someone has signed Fred’s name on an IOU and they are here to collect.
Lilli advises Fred that she has recently become engaged to General Harrison Howell (Brendan Tobin) and flashes her stunning engagement ring.
Their production, ‘Taming of the Shrew’ has started on stage, and the wealthy but distraught Baptista (Michael Hart) is desperately trying to marry off his obnoxious daughter, Kate (Katherine Friend) to anyone stupid enough to take her. Baptista’s servants (Barbara Lovell, Luke Heath) are laying out a feast as an encouraging lure. The locals (Natasha Smith, Elanor Cooper-Ritter, Tanya Doogan, Angus Cummings, Lachlan Kessey) arrange for the revelry.
When the army general arrives to see his fiancée Lilli, he sees an old love, Lois, and arranges to meet secretly with her at a later date.
With so many people in love with each other, who will end up with whom?
The director of this magnificent production is Neroli Burton, who has been responsible for a couple of dozen major musicals in WA. She really has that magic touch of keeping large crowd scenes moving and all of the performers looking interested. When your outstanding, leading man gets as a sore throat and has to call off, Neroli was so lucky to have such a talent as Musical Director, Justin Friend who managed to step in, script in hand (although hardly used). Justin managed to give an amazing full dramatic and comedic performance. Katherine might have had her bottom smacked by her real-life husband, but he received several face slaps in return.
The singers, especially the leads, had powerful voices that retained clarity and perfect pitch, a joy to listen to. There was an exhausting, thigh slapping dance routine with Jake Fryer, David Zuiddam and a young lady, sorry not sure who) which was one of the highlights of choreographer, Jessica Russell’s superbly creative routines.
Again, the new LED lamps coupled with Mike Hart, David Bain and Mike Small’s skills, showed that extra range of hues and luminescence control brought visual excitement to every scene. Greg Rusha and Chantelle Pitt’s soundscape was crisp and lively. The costumes were perfect for the late 1940s and the historical Shakespearean play, their style, cut and colours were immaculate, from the Mobster suits to the flowing gowns, all were created by Marjorie DeCaux, Nyree Hughes and Rachel Vonk. There were numerous props required, but again Lesley Sutton and Carol Hall spared no effort.
The musicians (sorry no names) were playing at the rear of the stage. They kept the pace flowing flawlessly, with a fine balance and just the correct volume.
Finally, but by no means least – the scenery. The backcloth artwork (Adrian Ashman, Owen Davis) gave an extra depth to the stage and had a wonderful warm Mediterranean glow. The required ‘full sets’ of flats and furniture, ranged from a small theatre passage, to two dressing rooms, a sitting room, an Italian town square complete with balconied mansions and a church; who better to entrust the task to than George Boyd? George is renowned for his set ‘convertibility’. His stage team were silent and swift as they manoeuvred huge blocks of set, like a Rubik’s Cube, in seconds. Even by George’s standard, this series of sets were unbelievable, the lateral thinking astounding.
How often is a show advertised as a ‘spectacular musical’ and you find it flat? A true spectacle should have superb singing, well-synchronised imaginative choreography, dancers who smile and look interested, stunning scenery, quality sound and lighting, lots of laughs and brilliant costumes – well folks, this show has EVERYTHING. Only a couple of shows to go, but even for a company that is well known for its musicals, this has to be one of their best. Energy packed. Fabulous.
‘The Foreigner’ is an exceptionally funny, light-hearted comedy written by Larry Shue, who was born in New Orleans at the end of World War 2, sadly dying at the age 39 in a 14-seater, plane crash.
Presented by the Darlington Theatre Players Inc, at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount Hill, Mundaring. This hilarious, two-hour and a quarter hour play – which premiered in 1983 – can be seen on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8.00 until 7th May. There are matinees on 24th April 24 and 1st May at 2.00 pm.
The scene is the 1980s in a USA fishing lodge in rural Georgia.
This set is another jaw-dropping production from the best set designer in the area – George Boyd. Built by a dozen hard workers, including the techs and cast, and working on a minimal budget we are presented with a massive, timber panelled, lounge (convincing painting by Adrian Ashman), a double staircase, a brick chimney, motel reception area and patio doors with rain lashing down outside. As always at the Marloo, there were numerous props to give that special touch of authenticity (Lesley Sutton, Ray Egan).
The sound effects were crisp (George Boyd) and operated perfectly by Belinda Beattie. Several lighting effects, including a lightning storm, were well planned by Michael Hart and David Bain, then operated by Brendan Tobin. There were several unusual – to say the least – costumes required, and Marjorie De Caux was there as always.
When English SAS trainer, Froggy Le Soeur (Keith Scrivens) has to go to America for a course, he takes along his friend Charlie (Joe Isaia) who has marital problems and depressed. He also suffers from extreme nervousness when in company. In fact, he is petrified to talk to anyone.
The two men arrive at Betty Meeks (Jacqui Warner) country fishing lodge. Betty has the usual warm welcome, but it is obvious that she is hitting hard times and having trouble maintaining the guesthouse.
To hide Charlie’s shyness, Froggy tells Betty that Charlie is a foreigner and cannot speak a word of English. Because of this false assumption, whilst Charlie sits having a cup of tea, he hears several private conversations, including the ‘love secrets’ of the local vicar, David (Rodney Van Groningen) and his fiancée, Catherine (Kylie Isaia). Within hours, further local scandals become exposed.
Before long, Charlie finds himself being taught English by Catherine’s retarded brother, Ellard (Blake Prosser). Into the house comes a local undesirable, Owen (Richard Hadler) an inbred thug who hates ‘outsiders’. Very soon, Charlie is in major trouble.
The director, Robert Warner and his assistant Joe Isaia faced a major task putting on such an unusual style of comedy. They chose a fabulous cast, including some of Community Theatre’s funniest actors; the chemistry between them was outstanding.
The giggles poured out, with a couple of belly laughs a minute. There were no jokes, it could not be described as a farce, and yet it was one of the funniest shows I have seen in months. Although every actor was perfectly tuned in and each gave a tremendous performance, I am sure they will not mind me saying that it was Joe Isaia – with their help – who nailed it. His expressions and body language had the audience falling about. Superb teamwork.
This is a DON’T MISS production. Hilarious from the opening minutes.