Posts Tagged ‘Directors


Director’s Top Tips – a chat with the Director of COCK, Leticia Caceres


We caught up with Director of MTC’s Cock – Leticia Caceres



What can you tell us about MTC’s Cock?

Mike Bartlett wrote Cock while in Mexico where they still have ‘cock fights’. He became fascinated with how this blood sport could act as a metaphor for theatre: people gathering in an intimate space to watch creatures tear each other to pieces. Cock captures the spirit of THE cockfight, as three characters battle it out to stake their claim on each other’s hearts.

I’ve tried to honour this through the way we’ve staged this production. It’s very pared back, the actors work their guts out and go at each other with everything they’ve got and the language is used like weapons in this ferocious love triangle.


How did you cast Cock?

I started by casting the male characters first. I wanted to get this relationship right. Tom Conroy (playing John) had blown me away a couple of years back when he performed in Declan Green’s Moth; he was extraordinary. When he delivered his monologue in the audition, I recall being deeply moved by his take on the character of John. He brought something very authentic to the role, and a beautiful mix of sensuality and naiveté, the right touch of courage and fear. He had clearly approached the part with deep compassion. On top of that, he has a wonderful sense of humor and he is quite a looker, so he ticked all the boxes really! Everyone else was cast based on the kind of connection and chemistry they shared with Tom. They needed to not only act with truth, but make us believe that they could have a strong physical connection for each other.


Why led you to directing? Is there anything you wish you’d known or done to make the move from university into the industry easier?

I started directing because I was the actor that was always interrupting the director to ask questions: “why are we doing this? what are you trying to say? what does this mean?”. I drove everyone crazy, so in the end it was easier to direct my own work and answer my own questions.

I wish I’d started directing earlier at uni. I didn’t think about directing as a career option for myself until I was in third year. I wish QUT had of had a more dedicated directing course, I think this could have accelerated things. But I was encouraged by my directing teachers (Sean Mee and Mark Radvan, who were very supportive) and I found my way by making work, and this is really the most effective means of becoming a director.


How did you get your first job as a director?

Michael Gow gave me my first paid job as a director. He offered to be my Mentor soon after he took over QTC. I spent a year following Michael around and then he let me direct a couple of readings. He was very trusting.


Who are your greatest influences? Who do you still want to work with?

I spent six months in Argentina studying under one of the great directors of Latin America (Juan Carlos Gene who passed away two years ago). He was my master. He deeply influenced how I direct. He taught me how to talk to actors. I hear his voice all the time when I’m working. He is unquestionably my greatest influence.

I would love to work with Robyn Nevin.


How does directing for the stage differ to film/television directing?

The stage is much more about language and the body. This means we are asking of the audience to really listen and be much more active in using their imagination. This is why language is so important on the stage and why the body (gesture, shape, spatial relations) becomes so critical. The audience is reading interactions on stage and filling in the gaps, making up the story in their heads, imaging locations, time, mood etc . Theatre can’t afford to be prescriptive as film, its much more evocative and that’s what makes it such a unique art form.


How do you communicate your vision to designers and actors?

We have long conversations about the themes of the work and what we want to say through it. This becomes a very shared process where we all agree on what we all want to say, how we want the world to be reflected through this story on the stage. Sometimes, what translates is a very emotional landscape, that’s abstract and distilled (as is the case with Cock) sometimes, it’s about functionality (we might need a literal representation of a space).


What do you look for in a text to help fuel your vision? How much do current events and your own experiences influence a piece?

I ask three things of a text – Is it entertaining? Is it political? Does it have heart?


What have you learned from previous productions about working with actors?

Semantics is everything.



What do you expect from your actors?

A sense of humour, patience, generosity and a physical precision. I can’t stand it when actors are not in their bodies.



How much do you “direct” your actors and how much do you let them “play”?

It’s always a combination of both. I try to let them play as much as possible. It’s no use if an actor can’t find a moment organically; if you tell them what to do and how to do it, it always looks and feels contrived. What I do is give specific actions to play “attack, distract, seduce, antagonize, vilify”. If you are specific about the intention and the action, then all else is up for grabs.


Can you tell us about RealTV?

We are still very much in operation! We’ve been making work for over a decade together, and we have lots of exciting projects on the boil. We are currently under commission from Belvoir St, working on a play about drugs and globalization. Angela Betzien is really pushing her writing into really extraordinary territory. She’s one of the fiercest playwrights in the country.


Do you prefer to work on classic or contemporary texts?



What are your thoughts on new Australian plays and our upcoming writers and directors? What do our writers need to be writing? What roles/stories do you want to see and direct?

There is some phenomenal new writing at the moment. I’m excited by the way Australian writers are tackling big ideas and contemporary concerns. Savages by Patricia Cornelius which was recently staged in Melbourne and is sweeping all the major awards in Victoria at the moment is an extraordinary piece of writing inspired by the murder of Dianne Brimble on the P&O a couple of years back. She wrote the whole thing in imperfect prose, the actors (five males) morphed in and out of blokes and dogs, and the whole thing was both funny and intensely uncomfortable. It was a fascinating investigation of the male psyche and misogyny in contemporary Australia. I’m still affected by this production, almost a year on. This is exactly the kind of work I crave to see on the stage.


What’s your view of Australian theatre right now?

There is so much great work being made at the moment. I can list a bunch of companies from around the country and artists whose work I wouldn’t miss for the world. Great writing, bold visions, wonderful acting, stunning design.



What are top tips for aspiring theatre directors?


Make work you want to see and don’t worry about anything/anyone else. Build a strong creative team who all share a language. See as much theatre as you can. And direct like a motherfucker. What that means is up to you.




MTC’s Cock continues at La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre until April 12 2014. If you can still get a ticket it will be here.




Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival 2012 – it begins!

Well, actually, it’s begun! (And our TVC on Channel 7 has been seen by many locals in the last week or so during the lead up!). Last night the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival kicked off in fine fashion, with four plays up for adjudication by Kate Foy.

Those who were in attendance (I was at Metro Arts for The Danger Ensemble’s Loco Maricon Amor – catch it if you can!), saw:

The Big Cats

Act One Theatre Inc

Drama 45mins

Chook Chook (AT)

Caloundra Chorale & Theatre Co.

Comedy 45mins

…Here’s The Thing (U) (AT) (CL)

Noosa Arts Theatre Inc

Comedy 35mins

Stoic (U) (AT) (CL)

Actor’s Gym

Drama 40mins

This morning we saw two plays.


Caloundra Chorale & Theatre Co.

Drama 40mins

Downstage (U)

Vanity Project

Comedy 25 minutes

Sessions continue today at 1pm and 7pm and tomorrow at 9am and 1:30pm, with the final adjudication to follow.

Saturday 1pm

Still Life (U) (AT) (CL)

Miranda’s Dressing Room

Drama 30mins

Day Trippers

Act One Theatre Inc

Comedy 35mins

Pieces (U) (AT) (CL)

BATS Theatre Drama 45mins

Whatever Happened To Humpty?

Fractal Theatre (JUNIOR)

Drama/Comedy 50mins

Saturday 7pm

Narcissistica (U) (AT) (CL)

Excalibur Theatre Company Drama 50mins

Anticlimax (U) (AT) (CL)

Random Acts Comedy 30mins

Three Angry Brides (U) (AT)

Noosa Arts Theatre Inc Drama 40mins

I’m a Pisces, he’s an Asshole (U) (AT)

SAD Theatre Company

Comedy 30mins

Sunday 9am

Dead End (U) (CL)

Crash Box Theatre

Drama 30mins

Crush (U) (AT) (CL)

Hills Players Inc.

Drama 45mins

Level 12 (AT) (CL)

Golden Glove Productions

Comedy 35mins

Flame (AT) (CL)

Beenleigh Theatre Group

Drama 35mins

Sunday 1:30pm

Touched (U) (AT) (CL)

Ipswich Little Theatre Society

Drama 50mins

To Whom It May Concern

Mousetrap Theatre Company

Drama 25 mins

All for The Nation (AT)

Ipswich Little Theatre Society

Comedy 30mins

Who The F*** Is Erica Price? (U) (AT) (CL)

Brisbane Arts Theatre

Drama 40mins

Check out the website for all details and grab a festival pass for just $35 at the door. It’s the best value theatre ticket this weekend! (23 plays over 3 days)!

Next weekend, see and support the Youth Theatre Festival, at Lind Lane Theatre on Saturday 25th from 9am.

Chook Chook Caloundra Chorale and Theatre Company

Chook Chook by Caloundra Chorale and Theatre Company



Brisbane Arts Theatre Drama Festival Results

Well, that was a big weekend! I adjudicated the Brisbane Arts Theatre’s 24th Annual Drama Festival. You will see the results below and, when I have a moment and I’ve posted last week’s reviews for my intrepid reviewers, Meredith and Michelle, I’ll post my comments, which I talked through before presenting the awards last night. Apparently this is slightly unusual? I thought it was important to provide some specific feedback for each group and, as a performer myself, I know the value of contextualising the feedback another company receives. We all slip into the same bad habits sometimes and it’s a great reminder – especially when everybody has enjoyed all of the plays – to talk through each production. Companies will, of course, also receive electronic copies of the comments that apply specifically to their production. I saw lots of nodding heads and smiling faces as I was going through my notes but even so, I reminded the players that my opinion is only one opinion and, as we well know, I have my critics too!

I’m super impressed with the overall standard at this year’s Brisbane Arts Theatre Drama Festival and I look forward to the next opportunity that I have to see so much theatre in the one place, over just one weekend (17th – 19th August at Buderim Memorial Hall), at the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival. If you’re up for it, come for the weekend (a Festival Pass will set you back just $35). If you’re around for the following Saturday (25th August at Lind Lane Theatre) come and support our Youth Theatre Festival. Keep an eye out soon for our upcoming TVC on local Channel 7.

We’re absolutely delighted to welcome our Sunshine Coast adjudicator for this year, Kate Foy.

There are other festivals happening in the meantime (Beenleigh? Sandgate?). Check out the Facebook group (thank you, John McMahon, for your kind words over there!), or the host theatre company websites for details.

Congratulations to everybody involved in the wonderful productions at Brisbane Arts! Next up for Brisbane Arts Theatre is an improvised show, created by one of our winners, Natalie Bochenski and Impro MafiaCritical Hit, an off-the-cuff fantasy comedy, in which the audience makes up the rules!

To the team at Brisbane Arts Theatre, congratulations on a successful, enjoyable festival and thanks again for having me!

P.S. Girls, I wore leggings and a drape top from and my amazing array of teas included Coconut Chai, Rose with French Vanilla and Italian Almond!

Youth Awards:

Best Actor
Daniel Taylor (Gossip)

Best Supporting Actor
Myles van Ryan (Mack in Gossip)

Best Actress
Aleisha Deryk (Jill in Humpty)

Best Supporting Actress
Tegan MacDonald (Mary Mary & Old Mother Hubbard in Humpty)

Amy Ingram and Natalie Trust (Gossip)

Best Play

Second best play
Whatever Happened to Humpty

Third best play
The Pirate Game

Best Backstage Conduct

Fractal Theatre Company (The Pirate Game)

Adjudicator’s Awards
1. Dominic Stevenson (Captain Blackheart in The Pirate Game)
2. Kai Stevenson (Short John in The Pirate Game)
3. Archie Horneman-Wren (the Guard in The Pirate Game)
4. Finn Riodan (Old King Cole in Whatever happened to Humpty?)
5. Isobel Rose (Phoebe in Gossip)

Fractal Theatre Company


Open Awards

Best Actor – Drama
Ben Dyson (Who the Fuck is Erica Price)

Best Actor – Comedy
Reagan Warner (Level 12)

Best Supporting Actor
Mark Lucas

Best Actress – Drama
Susan O’Toole

Best Actress – Comedy
Anna McMahon

Best Supporting Actress
Kate Cullen

Best Director
Shirley Lucas

Best Play

Second Best Play
Who the Fuck is Erica Price?

Third Best Play

Best Australian Script
Who the Fuck is Erica Price?

by Sarah Brill

Most Creative Set Design
Level 12

Best Backstage Conduct

Golden Glove Productions (Level 12)

Adjudicator’s Awards
1. Elodie Boal (Writer, Performer: Crush)
2. Sarah McMahon (Writer, Performer: I’m a Pisces, He’s an Asshole)
3. Karen Peart (Performer: All For the Nation)
4. Alison Kerr (Dir: Who the Fuck is Erica Price?)
5. Natalie Bochenski (Writer, Director & Performer: Downsize)

Special mentions to:

Kirsty, Shirley and Michelle (Narcissistica)

David Breen (Freedom)

Sue Sewell (Still Life)

Downstage Theatre Company (Cut!)


Level 12 Golden Glove Productions

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Level 12 which performed at Brisbane Arts this weekend. Reagan Warner won Best Actor in a Comedy and the team won Best Backstage Conduct- nice work Reagan and team! And a very special award went to Nick Beck for his set creation of the elevator in Level 12, winning Most Creative Set Design! We asked Nick if he could design an elevator frame that could beset up in 10min., striked in 5min., fit onto 9 different stages and be collapsable enough to be packed into a Toyota Yaris. We asked, and he created! Well done Nick! Nick and Bronte Salmond also added some extra supports to the set this year to make it even more safe and sturdy than it already was. Thank you for your creativity, generosity and design work. And just to make this award even more special, this is the Jo Peirce Memorial Shield, our beloved friend and mentor who we are sure was watching us from her seat all weekend. We said the show was for you Jo xx 

– Kate Beck Golden Glove Productions



Short + Sweet comes to the Sunshine Coast

Short + Sweet 2011 Winner Gabe McCarthy

Gold Coast and Brisbane Short + Sweet Winners Brett Klease & Sam Coward

Remember our SRT boys won the Gold Coast and Brisbane competitions?

Remember they came away from the national comp in Sydney in third place?

Should they accept an invite to perform in this year’s Melbourne comp?

This year is your chance to get involved too!



1 AUG – 19 AUG 2012

The Loft (QUT Creative Industries)

Arts Centre Gold Coast

Lind Lane Theatre (Nambour)

Registrations close MAY 30th

Image by Jom Photography

Who can enter Short + Sweet?

INDEPENDENT THEATRE COMPANIES (you can be an established group or just people with a ten minute play idea)

DIRECTORS (established or emerging, choose a script from all over the world, cast it and direct it)

ACTORS (be part of this worldwide festival, auditions announced on June 1)

Short + Sweet believes in the validity of the ten minute theatre form and that ten minute theatre works can stimulate, move and entertain audiences as effectively as longer theatre forms. Through an open call for scripts, general auditions and interviews with directors and Independent Theatre Companies Short + Sweet uses a vigorous merit based process to assemble a season of high quality ten minute theatre which incorporates a broad range of theatrical styles. Through the presentation of these works Short + Sweet aims not only to develop audiences for the ten minute form but to develop audiences for all theatrical forms.


the last days of judas iscariot

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

Company 08 & QUT Precincts

QUT Gardens theatre

27th – 31st March

Reviewed by Meredith McLean


I’m no architect but despite this fault in my knowledge I’ve always loved the Gardens Theatre at Gardens Point. It reminds me of Mary Poppins’ handbag.



It looks so small on the outside but when you step inside it gets bigger and bigger. There’s a neat front desk, a quaint modern bar around the corner and the stage will pleasure any theatre technician with a soft spot for lighting. However, I am not reviewing the building, which is a shame because I would’ve taken my hat off to it without a second thought. No, I’m reviewing The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, the play I saw in this wonderful theatre the other night.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot can be summed up to many things. Black comedy. Religious parody. Phrases such as these come to mind. Hit show would not be in that mix for me. Looking into the history of this play this was not a clean-cut success. Its original production came with mixed reviews. Some giving appraisal and others asking if it was “too much New York.” It is true that it did begin at off-Broadway and George Street in Brisbane isn’t exactly New York but something in that review did sit with me. It niggled at me during the first act. It hung around the bar with me during intermission and sat next to me a little too close for comfort throughout the rest of the show. Finally, while trying to mind my own business on the train ride home, I couldn’t take it anymore.



I had to scream to this irritating comment, amongst others from previous reviews.

“Did you enjoy

the show?”

the relentless thought asked me.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t say for the entire duration I did.

The premise is promising enough. In fact I was excited for this production because of the concept it was presenting. The idea that Judas waits in purgatory for a Judge Judy-like woman to decide the verdict; Heaven or Hell seemed hilarious. Having eyewitnesses like friends, family, Freud and even Satan seemed like the perfect spark for a good comedy. In the case of this production there were moments where echoes of laughter bounced off the walls of the theatre. But like I said, they were only moments. There was no consistency. It was a lucky draw waiting to see if this next scene would make me laugh or make me wait.

Although I do have to contend with the thought that it is simply the fault of the script. Regardless of these university students’ talent perhaps it was the original script by playwright, Stephen Adly Guirgis, which has let us down. There were recurring moments where I would sit quietly thinking to myself “This skit should’ve ended five lines ago.” There was so much unnecessary banter between characters, jokes repeated for the sake of an extra laugh and persisting moments of characters shouting nothing of use to the audience.

I question Guirgis’ writing because there was one young man who stood out for me in this production. There was constancy in his character that made me laugh every time he spoke. Even his movements relayed those of his role, El Fayoumy: A pseudo-lawyer acting against the defendant, Judas. Thomas Albert played the imposturous disaster of an attorney. The dedication to absurdity in Thomas was impressive. It was his ridiculousness in every wave of an arm or unnecessary shout of “Objection!” that kept me laughing.

Likewise, Leonard Meenach’s direction, despite the content, was a solid result. The use of space on the stage was for lack of a better description how I would’ve done it. This is one of those strange occurrences in life where everything was done well, each line and movement delivered suitably but the results do not match up. A mystery of error that despite a great set-up just didn’t pay off. The concept was there. The arrangement was there but the laugh out loud experience I was building myself up for just didn’t reach the audience.



Naturally I still have faith in these students. It was clear they had worked hard. As I said there wasn’t consistency but there was, for the most part, humour. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot was not a show that blew me away but there was satisfaction in seeing it. As I expected, it was fascinating to follow the narrative of the piece. And besides, we all want to know what happens. Does Judas go to Heaven or Hell? I had to find out, and I did laugh at times while waiting. If you want to be tearing up in your seat from laughing too much, this production is not the show you are looking for. However, if you’re looking for a tongue in cheek observation on the theories that circulate Judas Iscariot’s life then The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a play you should see.





world theatre day 2012

Happy World Theatre Day! 

World Theatre Day Message 2012 from Jake Witlen on Vimeo.

I remember reading a post by Travis Bedard about Why World Theatre Day.

“World Theatre Day isn’t about creating a global theatre experience. It’s about celebrating the local theatre experience globally. World Theatre Day is an acknowledgement that we are all doing this thing that we love.

And the internet allows us to share those local celebrations and revel in the fact that we’re not alone in our pursuit, and that no matter how many times they try to prove it to us mathematically, theatre is not dead.”  

Travis Bedard 2009

N.B. The bold is mine, not Bedard’s, just in case you were trying to skim over the contextualising quote.

With that in mind, I thought it pertinent to share with you, Sam’s President’s Report, which he read at the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance AGM on Monday night. Please feel welcome to leave us your feedback about the Alliance, Sunshine Coast theatre in general or to comment on World Theatre Day events in your area. And remember, if you’d like your production reviewed, or if you need some support by way of consultation or a workshop or a visit from one of us, during any part of the pre-production or rehearsal process, send a request or an invite at least 3 weeks out, to

President’s Report

With a relatively slow start to the year I am pleased to report that 2011 ended with a bang, the Festival was a great success and the separation of the Youth and Open sections went as smoothly as could be hoped; laying a stable foundation to continue growing both sections. Thanks to the Festival Committee (John B, Jacqui Mata Luque, Julia, Synda and Stephen).

The website has seen significant growth in the past 12 months and is truly the number one source of theatre related information locally. We have plans to upgrade the website in 2012 and hope to continue its exposure and usage. Thanks must go to Synda for her tireless efforts in managing the site, mailing list, directories and any other design/print jobs that pop up, which Synda takes in her stride and always makes us look good.

The 2011 committee also saw the inauguration of the Season Launch Soiree, a great night and the first time in a long time we have had the community together, under one roof. It was a good start; far from perfect but again sets a platform on which we can improve in future years. Huge thanks must go to the enigmatic Julia Loaney for her amazing Event Coordination of this event.

Most notably the 2011 committee voted to include any and all performing arts related entities into the Alliance, albeit with different levels of membership. This marks a significant milestone in the Alliances history and now will truly align all theatre groups, choirs, dance groups and the like, to share resources and form a stronger community for us all. Whilst the details of this change in constitution have yet to be ratified the sentiment and unanimous vote has ensured its go-ahead.

My main aim for 2011 was to raise the profile of theatre on the Coast, and whilst I am happy that we have gone some way to achieve this, I still feel the bulk of this task lies ahead. We need to show Sunshine Coasters that a weekly serve of culture can be found on local stages and not just in their yoghurt. We collectively need to shout out our success stories and demand a greater presence with the local media.

For many members 2011/12 has been a difficult year, with volunteer numbers dwindling, directors almost non-existent and companies struggling to recruit new members for both on and off stage duties. These challenges, coupled with shrinking audience numbers, means we all have a responsibility to find a remedy and together support and nurture the way forward.

To this end, I now ask anyone who reads this to consider the need, validity and value of “the Alliance” what does your group get out of it? What do you get out of it? Is what you get out of it worth what you put in?

I can see the need for collective representation, but to whom and for what? It hasn’t done us much good with the media, really. We haven’t secured any grants on behalf of anyone (this is a full-time job, even in the pro-am companies) and we have really only gone some part in achieving the set objectives as per our constitution.

The Festival would run without us – the keen would ensure it – the advertising discount would be maintained by the media houses, under the Alliance umbrella or not, the biggy would be the web site and directories; which could be maintained commercially if so desired.

So, again I ask: need, validity, value?

I personally have answers to these three questions, but do you? Does your theatre?

The commitment might only be 12 nights per year, but they are 12 nights we could better spend elsewhere if our efforts go unsupported or appreciated. I will continue my mission of raising our industry’s local profile whether or not I be involved with “the Alliance”……

I intend to stand again for re-election for 2012/13 but in doing so, I seek a mandate from those delegates who would like to see us become more active, which means becoming less bogged down in protocol at meetings and genuinely focussed on improving the standard, audiences, network and profile of all Sunshine Coast Performing Arts pursuits.

Thank you to all 2011/12 Delegates for your service and I hope that together we can effect some positive change, as the same ol’ same ol’ just aint’ good enough.


Sam Coward


a bad year for tomatoes

A Bad Year for Tomatoes

A Comedy by John Patrick

Lind Lane Theatre

14.02.12 – 24.03.12

After being in show business all her life, Myra Marlowe (Leona Kirby) is tired of pretending to be somebody else. She throws in the Hollywood Hilton towel and moves to more modest lodgings in the mountains. Only her agent knows where she is. She takes up gardening and begins writing her autobiography. She doesn’t get very far when the small-minded, small town folk interrupt her work and her new, quiet life with their petty gossip and trussed up dramas. Her seemingly brilliant plan to rid the place of pests and turkeys fails miserably. Her tricks and her true identity are revealed in the end.

Patrick wrote a farce (he also wrote wonderful screenplays, for which he is better known, including High Society and Three Coins in a Fountain). A farce is generally recognised as a humorous play in which the plot depends upon the skillful exploitation of a situation rather than upon any development of character. Well, despite the caricatures working in the first instance, there was little to no evidence of character development here so on that point, Lind Lane can enjoy some small measure of success. However, there is also, sadly, little to no skill demonstrated in terms of plot execution and the management of basic staging, pace and comic timing. A couple of the actors even appear uneasy on stage. This could be preview night nerves but, frankly, I’m getting sick of making excuses for some local performers (and directors). Sometimes, a more humble approach to the craft will do wonders. If you’re in it just for fun and you have no interest in becoming a more accomplished performer, make sure the rest of your cast know that before tech week, when it’s not too late to replace you, and skip this next paragraph…


It’s time some of you started asking questions of the people whose opinions you value (as opposed to those friends who tell you, “You were AWESOME!”). That might count me out. Whatever. If some of you ever realise that I (and other coaches, teachers and directors on the coast) know a little of what I’m (we’re) talking about, give me (or somebody else) a call and we can do some work together before you look, again, like a nervous, under-rehearsed, under-prepared beginner amateur. Seriously. Think about it. The same applies in retail, hospitality, education and business and you will have noticed that, especially in business, more and more speakers, salespeople, managers – people who want to be taken seriously by their audience – are engaging the services of acting coaches. Very smart. What the good coaches will do is stop you “acting” because we can see your efforts from the back row of the theatre and, damn, it’s painful! Sitting in the audience, we don’t want to see you struggling. We want to see you enjoying what you’re doing! Particularly in a comedy, it makes perfect sense! Think again and we’ll use a sporting analogy. If you want to play tennis with a few friends, you go hire a court and hit a ball around. If you want to be a good tennis player, the best, most confident tennis player you can be, ready for all sorts of play and ready to start enjoying the game on a whole new level, you hire a coach. By all means, if it’s what you want, you keep hitting that ball around with a few friends who are also after some fun times. But don’t expect me to tell you, “You were AWESOME!” at the end of the match. Okay? Okay.


So what happens when a farce isn’t funny? A good half of the preview audience and Director, Margaret McDonald, probably can’t answer that. The play was well received by its first audience and, apparently, there was “lots of laughter” during final rehearsals. So despite my misgivings, and counting on Lind Lane’s usual patronage, I think this cast can pretty safely assume they have a sell-out season on their hands.

During the opening ten minutes of A Bad Year for Tomatoes, I thought that perhaps if I could bear to sit through Leona Kirby saving it the way she started out doing, the production wouldn’t be so bad. She has her moments, as does Lea-anne Grevett (one scene particularly, a highlight for me, although completely OTT, is well executed, as Grevett tip-toes back and forth between the bottom of the stairs and the telephone, giving us – at last – a glimpse of some lovely natural comic ability) and Errol Morrison, who plays to the hilt, the dumb(er) wood-chopping, trespassing, over-friendly freak. At the thirty-minute mark, when the cringe-worthy neighbour, Cora (Deb Mills) returns for a second visit, I was hoping wondering if we were getting close to the end yet.

There is a particular demographic who will love this play to pieces. Clearly, I am well out of it. Older members of the preview audience chortled, snorted and upon leaving the theatre happily noted, “Well that was good, wasn’t it?” I smiled and nodded. Sometimes smiling and nodding is the best I can manage after a show. Sometimes, the less said the better. I’ve said too much already. I’m disappointed. I sincerely hope you won’t be.

If you see a lot of theatre, you can probably not feel too bad about missing A Bad Year for Tomatoes. If you don’t get out much, it could be your cup of tea. The production elements are fine (we can see how hard this company works to get great sets and costumes in front of us). In any case, let me know what you think. I don’t mind being proven wrong and I certainly hope you can tell me that that you enjoyed a faster, funnier performance than that which I had to sit through.