Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Play On!, The Q

And now for something completely silly. "Play On!" is a goof on amateur theatre - the actors barely know their lines, the props aren't always in the right place, the prompter is missing pages from the script and the writer is still rewriting days before opening. Panic is in the air, and as the disasters continue to pile up, can they survive opening night with their dignity intact? No, of course they can't, and watching it all fall apart spectacularly is part of the fun.

Rick Abbott's script is simple but fun - it doesn't have the pure cascading ruthless plot logic of great farce, but it works as a good start for the performers to play various archetypical theatrical types. As the cast repeatedly work their way through a reasonably awful murder mystery, we get to know the various egos at play, the complicated relationships and all dangers that will pile up in the final act (as the opening night plows its way to inevitable disaster).

Taking honours with grandly ridiculous movements and OTT performances are Riley Bell and Duncan Driver - Bell in particular has a hilarious pair of legs and employs them to wonderful effect whenever he's required to make an overly-dramatic movement. Driver's arms and fingers carry roughly equal levels of comedy, along with the ever mellifluous Driver-voice which makes the ridiculous fatuousness of most of his dialogue even funnier. Steph Roberts has a lovely way of being thick-as-a-post yet adorable as the befuddled and pregnant ingenue, Marion West's stage-manager/prompt/dogsbody is delightfully weary and mordant. Liz St Clair Long has a great line in ranty frustration, and Tony Turner lends an exhausted dignity to the proceedings. Sian Harrington is pure nervous panic, while Bradley McDowell as the incredibly-slappable pretentious author of the piece is almost upstaged by his three awful outfits.

Jarrad West keeps it reasonably tight and furious, landing every gag that's there in the script and possibly adding a few bonus ones. Brian Sudding's set is nicely stylized, and the gorgeous red-lighting of Hamish McConachie at the beginning of Act Two deserves a quick mention.

This is not by any means a deep or particularly penetrating piece of theatre. But it is fun and provides some warming giggles for the beginning of a Canberra or Queanbeyan winter.

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