Posts Tagged ‘joy marshall

04
May
12

That Scottish Play

That Scottish Play

SRT & Lind Lane Theatre

Lind Lane Theatre

27th April – 4th May

Have you ever been involved in community theatre? We used to call it “amateur” theatre but that term has become more closely associated with poor quality performances and megalomania than with its original meaning, which is “to love” (from the Latin verb, amo). The term, “community theatre”, seems to have a friendlier tone to it. But that tone can be deceptive!

Simon Denver’s That Scottish Play features a talented and, one suspects, largely undiagnosed cast of Sunshine Coast actors sending up Sunshine Coast actors. It reveals the machinations of a community theatre group in the imagined Sunshine Coast town of Widgee. It could be Nambour. It could be anywhere. We recognise the characters and their quirks, we laugh out loud at their ridiculous antics and we loathe the egos that can’t help but surface under the little theatre’s spotlight. Names are named and every local theatre company is fair game! No one and nothing is safe from Denver’s pen!

That Scottish Play has been taken out of the vault and prepared for a strictly limited season at Lind Lane Theatre in just a few weeks. It’s like (Louis Nowra’s) Cosi on ice, though not the family-friendly Disney version you’re thinking of. More like the unfriendly, politically incorrect, if-only-there-were-ice-in-Africa, chaotic kind of Cosi on Ice. It’s an extremely talented ensemble – Denver says they are “from the deeper end of the talent pool” – and one of them, Sam Coward, who plays the guy who plays Macbeth, Nathan Gayelord, says, “I never read the script. It was a guideline.” This is typical from someone who has worked with Denver before. Many of the members of this extended company (let’s call it +SRT) have had that privilege and a few have not. Let’s hope they are brave enough to take up the mantle again because this cast is a joy to watch. They are each experienced enough and confident enough to just play. This play requires the notion of play to be unleashed – as Director, this is Denver’s specialty – and we can see that they’re having fun! It’s certainly the best parody we’ve seen and the local references are obvious enough to have audience members blushing in their seats, loving every minute of it!

The “problem” with such a localised and personalised parody is that those who are slightly outside of the teensy weensy world of local theatre don’t get it. This may need to be a consideration in future, in order to attract the desired ticket sales. I watched with interest on opening night, a party of elderly, typically Lind Lane Theatre patrons and they were in turns, bemused, horrified, terrified, nonplussed and not amused. I was in fact waiting for one of them to say at the end, “We are not amused.” Perhaps they thought they were coming to see Shakespeare’s Macbeth?!

Well, of course if you read the publicity or Google Mr Denver’s works, you’ll realise that this is not Macbeth but a basic tale of typical amateur over-the-top theatrics. The Lower Widgee Amateur Drama Group prepare to stage a production of Macbeth…with all the actual and boring Macbeth bits taken out of it! Early in the rehearsal process, the show becomes a musical (because what’s the biggest bums-on-seats show an amateur theatre company can pull off in a year? A musical!), allowing us to enjoy ridiculous musical theatre performances (think Forbidden Broadway) from the likes of Chris Surplice (who has come up from Sydney to play) and Sam Coward, who hasn’t been heard to sing, except in the car and in the theatre when bored or making a point as Director, since he played Javert in an impressive little production of Les Miserables in Mt Isa (not so impressive were the brows back then, mine, not Sam’s; his are fine. Thank goodness I’ve been threaded since then!).

Well-known, well-loved performers from right across the coast join these pillars of performance power and strength on stage. Joy Marshall as Penelope Ascot is a standout. She limps and she lisps and whenever The Trophy or The Awards are mentioned, she twitches. Hers is a hilarious performance and it is well balanced by Brett Klease’s, as the professional director, Simon, from Brisbane, who comes in on the wings of a successful grant application and won’t be directing anything much in the end (and won’t be allowed to leave)! Surplice, as Nigel Chandler, has a few nice little moments, particularly in the plotting, scheming scenes, when we get a glimpse at how far the bitchiness backstage can go. Howie Tampling gives us some good belly laughs, as the guy with Tourette’s and Errol Morrison is the perfect small country town mayor and the hapless husband of the overly-ambitious Penelope.

Individual characters are made very clear and some of the mimicry is too close to be believed. Yikes! But even the audience members who are at the brunt of the jokes appear pleased! Phew! MD Darren Heskes provides an amusing, well-synched underscore throughout, referencing all the major musicals. His work helps to move more swiftly some of the scenes that threaten to lag. This is exemplified in Nigel’s scheming scene, in which he plots with Penelope to kill the (university trained) “real” actors, underscored by a few bars from Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. The actors could very easily have sung, “We need him crucified, it’s all you have to do…”

This production is a first for the Sunshine Coast. It parodies the best-known members of each theatre company in a ruthless and rather daring manner and yet leaves only a few offended (the collateral damage). It seems the writing is witty enough and the pace fast enough for this motley company to get away with all manner of sins! The combined talents on stage and off indicate that there is a distinct lack of entertainment like this – for actors and audience to get their teeth into – and the results indicate that there should be more of it. If Denver can pen a play like this in a couple of hours (and re-write it during rehearsals) and another, his latest, in less than an hour (So, Where Is It? was originally a one act play and was whittled down to just 10 minutes, winning the Gold Coast and Brisbane Short + Sweet Awards and taking out 3rd place in the national competition in Sydney this year), then he should be producing something new at least twice a year! There is talent to perform the work and audiences craving to see it. Let’s have more like this, please.

Final performances: tonight (Friday) and tomorrow night (Saturday) at 8pm & final matinee tomorrow (Saturday) at 2pm at Lind Lane Theatre

Book online or call 07 5441 1814

 

An audience member offered this feedback:

 

Last evening, Wednesday 3 May 2012, my partner and I with a couple of friends attended the production of “That Scottish Play”. Now we would like to take this opportunity in thanking every actor in this production plus all of the theatre crew for one of the most enjoyable theatre experiences of Lind Lane (although we also did enjoy the 3 Act plays performed last year by the theatre.)
 
We all found the play, or was it really a musical in disguise, we still aren’t too sure, totally entertaining and extremely funny and terribly well crafted and acted. Congratulations to all for a great night’s entertainment and may we expect more of the same in the future? we do hope so.
 
Simon Denver’s writings are truly of an international standard and he certainly knows just how to bring out the ‘best’ in his players.
 
We wish the cast and writer/director all the very best and again, thank you so much for such a most memorable evening of true comic theatre.
 
Bravo!
 
Mr Paolo-Andrea L.G. Roberto-Preston
Eudlo

22
Mar
12

so the boys are off to Sydney Short+Sweet!

UPDATE

 

This is a message call to action from Darren Heskes (Origianl Theatrical Works on the Sunshine Coast)!

 

So much money is regularly tossed into sports and athletes by governments, corporations and individual with the prospect of seeing home-grown athletes come seventh in a national or international competition. Here on the Sunshine Coast we have three local actors poised on the precipice of national victory at the “Short and Sweet” 10 minute play competition with an original work and barely an iota of publicity and few willing to support financially. Works like “So, where is it?” by Simon Denver, ably re-inforced by Messrs. Klease and Coward have a degree of artistic credibilty and a longer lasting significance, far more so than a sponsored and government funded no name athlete coming last in his or her heat at this year’s London Olympics. If you don’t like the point I’m trying to make then don’t complain afterwards if you have made no effort to support the cause of these worthy and well proven thespians. Sure we’ll hear throughout the media of local athletes coming home heroes when their best was not good enough but isn’t it time we show support to the Arts especially when it comes to financing their endeavours. I don’t want to see them standing on the side of the Bruce Highway hitching a ride down to Sydney next week for the finals of the “Short and Sweet” comp…Do you? Sure…they may look funny soaked to the skin as passing trucks splash giant mud puddles into their faces, but they a representing both you and I. Blimey…the Sunshine Coast needs some positive publicity considering the general state of theatre in this region. Do we always have to be regarded as Brisbane’s muddy, rain drenched inbred untalented second cousins? We have a chance to hold our heads up for a change. So what are you going to do about it?

 

Thanks, Darren!

 

Remember that violent little play the SRT boys came up with for a couple of one-act play evenings on the Sunshine Coast? Remember they cut it down to just 10 minutes for the Gold Coast Short+Sweet Festival and the Brisbane Short+Sweet Festival, both of which they won, becoming the Queensland champions? Right. So next week, they’ll compete in the Short + Sweet Festival Gala Finals at the Seymour Centre, in Sydney. BOOM!

Here’s the whole story: By default rather then design, Suncoast Repertory Theatre (SRT), a fully self-funded Sunshine Coast-based company, has found itself flying the flag nationally, for Queensland theatre.

Written and directed by Simon Denver, So, Where Is It? stars two of the Sunshine Coast’s best performers, Brett Klease and Sam Coward. Described as

“Noir, very noir with a wicked, wicked twist”

the play is based around an interrogation. Its coarse language and extreme violence have been challenging the actors and audiences alike.

Short and Sweet is a deceptive title – it’s actually been a long journey for SRT. It started exactly where it finishes next week, in a dressing room at the Seymour Centre. As Writer and Director, Simon Denver explains, “Last year SRT were performing for the Sydney Children’s Festival at the Seymour Centre when one of those five degrees of separation phone calls came in. Someone told somebody, who mentioned it to someone else that the Gold Coast Short and Sweet festival had a cancellation and did we have a 10-minute piece we could take down. We said yes – even though we didn’t have a piece ready – and thought, “Great, a couple of days on the Goldie!” Thanks must go to to Sean Dennehy, who trusted me enough to make that call and offer the spot in the program (“You know it can only be a ten-minute play, don’t you?”) and to our wonderful friends, Lisa and Craig, who generously accommodated all of us – including the five year old – on the Gold Coast.

Clowning around at The Seymour Centre during The Sydney Children's Festival

Luckily, the boys had a one-act play, which had been devised over beers and cigarettes on our back patio and received well at the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival (Klease was awarded Best Actor), which could be cut down to 10 minutes, in accordance with Short and Sweet guidelines.

Simon notes, “It wasn’t until we got down to the Gold Coast Events Centre and saw the calibre of the festival that we realised what a major event the Short and Sweets are! The standard was amazing! Our “couple of days on the Goldie” turned into a highly focused work blitz.” They won and went on to become the Brisbane Short and Sweet champions two weeks later.

So, Where Is It? was invited to compete in the Top 100 preliminary finals in Sydney and upon winning their heat in Week 10 last week, they’ll compete next week for the honour of Best 10-Minute Play in Short+Sweet Sydney 2012. We thought it odd that the invite was not simply for the Gala Finals, as opposed to an invitation to (essentially) start at the bottom again in the NSW heats (10 weeks of heats)! Having already won the Queensland finals, it does seem strange (and somewhat sinister) that some people/festivals interstate continue to perpetuate the myth of the poor country cousin, doesn’t it? I hope to see that change and, in the future, to have the opportunity to celebrate interstate winners who go directly into the Gala Finals, without having to prove themselves again at the same level of the competition. It seems redundant and remiss. Another obvious advantage about making just one trip to Sydney to compete, rather than two, is the cost involved. A second trip next week is getting costly for a company that is self-funded and has never asked a favour of anybody.

“Regardless of the outcome we are satisfied with our journey,” says Simon. “Six months ago we had never even heard of Short and Sweet. Next week we share a stage with the best six plays from Sydney Short and Sweet, the best two from Melbourne Short and Sweet and the best one from Newcastle Short and Sweet”.

It has its critics but there is no denying the Short and Sweet festival is a national and international phenomenon. It’s a massive coup for this little Sunshine Coast company. If you’d like to help them get there, email me for account details. A big thank you to those friends and fans who have already contributed.