‘A Love Affair’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by June 26, 2014

‘A Love Affair’ is a semi-autobiographical play by American TV scriptwriter, Jerry Mayer. It is a community theatre production by Fremantle’s Harbour Theatre Group, who after 51 years in Fremantle, are now performing at their temporary home the Camelot Theatre, 16 Lochee Street, Mosman Park, nightly at 7.30 until 21st June.

With a very warm welcome from the Mosman locals, this 120-minute award winning romantic comedy has been fully booked on most nights, well in advance.

The Art Deco style venue has recently been modified and has about 110 tiered, folding seats. Originally the location would have been used for ballroom dancing to an orchestra, and so the stage was almost 2 metres from the floor. This has now has been lowered to two thirds of a metre, a more comfortable height for the seated audience.

Considering the difficult move from the old theatre premises, the set built by the regular team of Brian Mahoney, Harry Schultz, Matt Cuccovia, Phil Redding and David champion was quite impressive. Tina barker and Trevor Dhu’s scene painting completed the effect.

 The rear of the set is raised and represents the loft of the Diamond’s home in Malibu. The front of the stage is their bedroom. Both areas cover the family life between 1953 and 1991.

 

        The year is 1991, and easy going Jimmy (Ted Bull) and his matriarchal wife of forty years, Alice (Vickie Billingham) are about to move to a smaller home for economic reasons. Jimmy is revelling in finding all the ‘treasures’ in the loft, some of which he hasn’t seen for decades. He is helping Alice throw out her rubbish, as the new home will not have room for both his treasures and her trash.

       Every object that they pick up seems to bring back clear memories of them as a courting couple. As they stand in the loft, the couple watch as the happy and tough memories are played out before them, with young Jimmy (Glen Scott), a very different man in those days, and Alice (Maree Andersen) was a subservient wife. Subservient that is, until Jimmy’s sexy, work colleague (Emily Lloyd) comes on the scene. Even decades later, Alice still suspects a lot more went on behind her back.

Will Alice ever find out the truth?

 

 Under the watchful eye of Finley nominated director, Trevor Dhu, Emily Lloyd played a few very different parts convincingly. Thanks to good makeup design (Nicole Miller) and clever costume variation (Nicola Bond) there was no confusion in the appearance of the characters played by Emily.

The main characters delivered the very funny one-liners, especially those referring to Jimmy’s aging body. There was a sprinkling of warm and sensitive moments, with a pleasant little ‘duet’ from the two actors playing Alice. The two couples were most believable, I am sure many of the audience would be watching their own youth unwind. Great chemistry between the players. The director had the difficult task of seamlessly moving back and forward from one era to another, this he successfully achieved with inspired lighting design (Rob Tagliaferri, aided by Peter Kirkwood) and employing a follow spot (Rachel Knight) to suggest the earlier period. The soundscape by Vanessa Gudgeon included instantly recognisable 45s from the two eras. Both techies had more than their usual share of cues and were spot on with their timing. The stage manager (Meredith Hunter) and her assistant (Tanya Rumithya) were practically invisible in their numerous set changes and modifications.

The warmth of the Harbour’s welcome has transferred well and the reputation has obviously spread around their new territory. A most pleasant night at the theatre, with a fun production and slick production.