‘One-Act Season’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 5, 2015

‘One-Act Season’ is a collection of two short plays and a recitation, being presented by the Darlington Theatre Players, at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, Greenmount. The two and a half hour performances can be seen on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8.00, the season runs until Saturday 12th September; there is one matinee on Sunday 6th September at 2.00 pm.

The lighting for all of the plays was designed by Michael Hart and operated by Ryan Perrin. David Bain and Greg Rusha created the sound effects, there was one beauty that brought the house down.

 

‘The Tip of the Spear’ is an engrossing monologue from the pen of James Forte. Although James has written around two dozen plays, this is the first based on an actual event. It is the tale of an army Glider Regiment’s mission in June 1944. It has been described as the most daring and clever piece of flying in the whole of World War ll, as carried out by Staff-Sergeant Jim Wallwork, who died only a couple of years ago, aged 93.

The star of the play, Ray Egan, directed the piece himself.

This intriguing and masterly monologue premiered at the Old Mill Theatre, on Wednesday and Thursday nights this week to rapturous applause.

The scene is a local bar, just after a Veterans’ parade.

     An ex-army serviceman in a smart suit, proudly wearing his red service beret, and with a beer in hand, takes a seat at a pub table. With a wistful look on his face, he starts to relate the amazing story of his night mission to destroy Pegasus Bridge.

Ray is an extraordinary actor. Famous for his madcap ‘Dinner for One’; he now turns on the pathos, and with tears in his eyes, he recalls the ghastly happenings of that astonishing night. A magical performance.

 

‘When Darcy Rode the Mule’ a yarn written by Banjo Patterson.

An Australian farmer strolls on (Ray Egan) and in Strine, apologises for the Pommy bastard who has just been on, and now he is going to tell the story of a true Aussie.

      Ray then gave us another side of his talents, as he made the audience chuckle with his rendition of Banjo’s observations.

 

‘Chinamen’ a one-act farce from British playwright, Michael Frayn’s four play volume ‘The Two of Us’. Frayn was most famous as a political reporter for the UK ‘Observer’ newspaper; however, his translations of Chekov’s plays are the most popular in the theatre.

The title of this presentation is, by today’s standards, horrifyingly ‘politically incorrect’.

It was as the playwright watched the offstage antics of this farce that inspired Frayn’s hilarious play, the recently seen, ‘Noises Off’.

 

The scene is a dining room with table and several chairs. The table is laid for a dinner party. There are two doors stage right and one to the left Set design by Harry MacLennan.

This play has the unusual premise that only two actors play all of the characters. This means that only two people can be on the stage at any time!

 

     A young, London couple, Jo (Chantelle Pitt) and Stephen (Paul Reed) are having a dinner party. Jo has asked her best friend Bee around for a meal; she told Stephen, but typical male, he did not hear or pay attention to an important detail.

     When Stephen meets Barney in the street, he says how much he is looking forward to catching up on the news, and that the meal is planned for 8.00 that evening. However, Stephen did not realise that Bee and Barney were no longer married, and that Bee was actually going to bring her new, longhaired, hippy partner, Alex, for the meal.

     On hearing of Stephen’s blunder, Jo is petrified that estranged Barney will turn up and have a tantrum with Bee’s new partner.

     How will Jo and Stephen keep them apart? Will they clash?

 

Director, Harry MacLennan has taken on a most difficult and complex play to present. He cleared the first hurdle perfectly, by finding two talented actors who could keep a straight face whilst pandemonium ensued.

Harrison then had to convey the impression that the various guests who passed through the room, were in still the areas around the central dining room. This he conquered with the aid of his stage managers, Jordan Tabb and Adrian Ashman, by having them knock and pull at doors, handing out wineglasses, and signalling – just out of sight – from off stage.

The actors had to stand in doorways, pretending to argue and chat with each other, when in fact the other performer may be in the wings on the opposite side of the stage, changing into another character’s costume ready for the next entrance. Sounds complex? You bet it was for the actors, but astonishingly simple for the audience to follow. This mayhem went on for the full 40 minutes of the play, with not a flicker of stress on the actors’ faces as they flawlessly changed persona.

Very clever. Congratulations to all concerned.

 

Marloo had a few problems gathering and staging their selection, but in the end, they have come up with a well-appreciated, varied selection. Their only problem now is to attract the crowds. With eight shows opening on the same night, many of them being for a very short season, the audiences are sadly left in a quandary – which show they are going to miss?

This programme has everything, a tale of bravery and tragedy, a light-hearted Aussie yarn and a unique farce, all very well produced and acted.