‘It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by May 3, 2015

‘It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To’ was the first full-length play written by the well-known comedy playwright, Elizabeth Coleman. Elizabeth had previously written several scripts for the ‘Flying Doctors’ in the mid-80s whilst still a NIDA student.

This very funny two and a half hour, dark comedy by the Darlington Theatre Players, can be seen at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount on a Friday and Saturday nights at 8.00 until Saturday 16th May. There are two Sunday matinees at 2.00 pm.

 

It is present day in the upmarket living and dining area of the Patterson’s home, somewhere in Australia.

Another magnificent set from George Boyd. The dining area is raised and the table is set for a special family meal. The sitting room area has a comfortable three-piece suite and jarrah furnishings. There are two arches leading to the bedrooms and front door. The director and his assistant, the technical crew, George Boyd, Michael Hart, Dennis Sutton and the stage crew, Graeme Dick and James Dick, combined efforts to build this stunning set. Lesley Sutton has carefully chosen props give a truly authentic ‘lived in’ finish.

Very good, well thought-out, lighting design operated by David Bain. Two large pendants light the area. David has taken the time to light passageways, and when the room door was opened the area beyond was lit up and not, as often seen, just a black void. Chantelle Pitt operated George Boyd’s sound design with precision.

 

       A spotlight picks out a wall clock and dour Ron Patterson (Ray Egan). Ron explains how three months ago his specialist told him he is dying, and that he had three months to live. Ron took him at his word – not 3 and a bit months, but three months precisely to the minute. Today is the day; he has 111 minutes left to live. His wife Dawn (Siobhán Vincent) has decided to gather the family around for party pies and Pavlova, in an attempt to help Ron tie up the loose ends of his strained family life.

      The lights dim, and seconds later we join Ron’s high flying, businessman son, Michael (Richard Hadler) and his elder daughter, Debbie (Belinda Djurdjevic), 35 and still not married! They are trying to decide why their father has called the family gathering. Could he have discovered that Michael is gay?

      The younger daughter, Karen (Laura Williams) arrives, wearing a miniskirt, bright red shoes and a massive chip on her shoulders. She moans and complains, ‘why is her Dad wasting her time?’, but as soon as Ron and Dawn enter the room, her little pet-lip pouts and they tell her how wonderful she is, so much better than the two disappointing older children.

      Before long, at Ted’s request, a young undertaker (Harry MacLennan) calls to check the funeral details.

 

This is a hilarious script, and with a laugh about every twenty seconds, it required a first class, inspired director and Brendan Tobin was just the man, most capably assisted by Rachel Vonk. The dialogue was perfectly delivered by a cast that thoroughly understood their characters. All of the personality traits were there, brought to life by great body language and facial expressions. The father’s stern and miserable outlook, the loving caring mother who went with the flow, the petulant and jealous Karen, Michael was anxious and impatient with Debbie trying to be patient despite being the one who is bottom of the family tree. The euphoric undertaker, Ron, just sat with an angelic smile. Rarely I have I seen such a perfectly integrated cast, everyone gets 10/10 for performances. The pace and chemistry outstanding. A massive compliment but thoroughly deserved.

Happy Birthday for tomorrow to director Brendan, you deserve a rest and be pampered.

The laughter did not let up for a moment; sit near the aisle you will need it to roll in. Try to catch it, funniest show in years.