A New Way to Pay Old Debts


A New Way To Pay Old Debts

Brisbane Arts Theatre

26th July – 24th August 2013


Reviewed by Meredith McLean & Bil Heit The Drama Mumma


A classic tale of what really matters in life; money, love, and the odd beer or two.



Upon entering the theatre, I was immediately captivated by Chancie Jessop‘s set which was obviously multi-locational. Various environments were imagined effectively throughout the play with use of minimal props and Michael Sutton‘s lighting and of course the actors realisation of the space. This helped the action to flow smoothly (for the most part on opening night) as the performers’ storytelling was the focus. – Bil


Brisbane Arts Theatre certainly has an eye for versatility. Their season showcases a whole spectrum of theatrical archetypes.


A New Way To Pay Old Debts demonstrates nothing of a new way. But under the direction of Ron Kelly, this team of actors do their best to bring this classic into the modern era.


The play was written by Philip Massinger, one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. The initially broad, expositional nature of the character’s language took a little getting used to for some members of the audience. Soon enough the laughs were rolling in, the result of clever puns and physical commitment from some of the performers (notably Cameron Hurry and Natalie Ridoutt). Ron Kelly has assembled an impressive cast for the production, his directorial debut as Artistic Director of the Brisbane Arts Theatre. – Bil


There are some disparities in the show between the line of new and old. Though the dialogue is, as far as memory recalls, unchanged, the costume design varies greatly. Taking into account that Brisbane Arts Theatre doesn’t have the financial backing of other theatres in Brisbane, the attire of the characters nevertheless could’ve had a little more consistency. A full line of 17th century regalia is probably out of the question, but it was hard to determine within the first few scenes whether or not there was genuine intent of modernity.


On the topic of disparities, distracting at times are the accents of the characters. Though some performed magnificently, enunciating each word and projecting beautifully written language to the audience, a few ocker accents also graced the stage. A united front on how to present the language would strengthen the overall performance.


In spite of these shortcomings the merits of the play uplift the performance. A New Way To Pay Old Debts, besides being a melodrama and a good-hearted comedy, falls under the more specific category of a Villian Play. And what would this performance be without Steven Tandy as the dastardly and horrid Sir Giles Overreach? Tandy was both menacing and hilarious at the appropriate moments.


As lead villain, Sir Giles Overreach, Steven Tandy provided a little evil and a lot of laughs. His interpretation of the language was most impressive. Veteran Shakespeare performer Vanya Matula was comfortable and commanding as Frank Wellborn and Jessica McGaw was beautiful in the role of Lady Allworth. – Bil


The arc of the story is typical of the play’s era, wrapped up neatly with the lovers serenely smiling, but we knew THAT was coming. Perhaps the ending is easy to foresee simply because we are so familiar with new versions of the old greats such as this one. In that sense, it makes this comedy easier to enjoy, despite some of its more challenging language. There is as much wit as there is slapstick to this charming little production, and it’s worth a look if you haven’t yet stopped by Brisbane Arts Theatre this year.


Despite some minor opening night jitters from some of the younger actors and the lighting, I was thoroughly entertained by the company as a whole. All performers are to be commended for their commitment to the storytelling and the enjoyment of its delivery. The hilarity experienced in the rehearsal room was evident from the audience and was infectious. 

The good vibes continued after the show in the courtyard, as the audience, cast and crew celebrated another successful offering from B.A.T. in 2013. – Bil


Check out Bil’s blog The Drama Mumma here



0 Responses to “A New Way to Pay Old Debts”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow on Bloglovin

Follow us on Twitter


%d bloggers like this: