‘Veneer’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by November 22, 2013

‘Veneer’ is the latest production from The Strawboat Collective; a Fremantle based group that is committed to making theatre accessible to the community and to give new plays and scripts an airing.

The script of this fascinating and informative play was written by local playwright, Kerry Bowden, previously a finalist in The Maj Monologues and winner of the People’s Choice award.

The performances can be seen nightly at the Pakenham Street Performance Space (PSAS), 22 Pakenham Street, Fremantle. The 90-minute show starts at 7.30 pm, and the season runs until Saturday 9th November….

It is early one morning in a Men’s Shed, a community run group where the members enjoy woodwork sessions, sharing each other’s company and receiving advice. Samuel (Mathew Young) is one of the newest members; he is fun loving and produces some wonderful pieces of woodwork, but his coarse language is not really appreciated by the oldest member, Tom (Dean McAskill).

At another workbench is the group’s leader, Paul (Eddie Stowers). Paul is a pleasant, patient man who is awaiting the birth of a grandchild.

Into the shed wanders Abe (Nicholas Stevenson), a shy and slightly nervous lad who has been sent by the juvenile court to do community service with the Shed men. Although Abe has a very supportive mother, Elise (Sascha Bragaglia), he is missing a male figure in his life and so is happy to be taken under the wing of Samuel and be taught several skills relating to both woodwork and life in general.

The highly realistic set was built by The Men’s Shed of Fremantle and their friends from across the river; the Mosman Park Community Men’s Shed. The wooden, wall panel strips were most effectively represented by aluminium roof panels. The props such as the work benches and tools gave an authentic atmosphere. The dozen LED lamps rigged and operated by Aaron Stirk, gave just the correct mood.

The script covers a multitude of problems facing people today. They are well blended into the story and delivered by the top rate cast with humour and a few genuine tears from Nicholas and Eddie. Dean gave a horrendously convincing performance, brilliant.

The script had one or two rough edges, but the story threads were interesting and delivered with good pace.
An excellent play for schools to see or perform.