‘Aches and Lakes’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 15, 2016

‘Aches and Lakes’ are the latest two dark comedies by local writers, Rupert Williamson and Harry Goodlet. The University Dramatic Society is producing the Premiere of these very funny plays at the Dolphin Theatre, UWA University, at 35 Stirling Highway in Crawley. This non-profit, semi-professional theatre company are now in their 99th year and still producing high quality shows.
This two and a half hour, UDS presentation can be seen nightly at 7.30 until Saturday 17th September.

‘By the Door to the Bonehouse’ is another top-notch script by Rupert Williamson.

The scene is a large room in an old house. It looks like a cross between an op. shop and a junk yard. Stage managed by Daniel Dyer-Smith, and like an Albee set – a nightmare.

           Sitting in the family home, reading his daily paper is Henry (Tim Lorian – excellent), a pedantic, erudite, irascible nutter. Henry calls for his bright and helpful housekeeper, Sally (Lucy Rossen) to bring him some tea.
           A few minutes later, for the first time in years, his sensible sister Jean (Lauren Meyer) calls around with their emotionless and silent brother, Mark (Giacomo Groppoli). She says they were just passing, but Henry knows better. He asks maid Sally – now a smaller, slightly dim girl (Emily Gale) – to bring some whisky. The siblings spend the night together.
          Next morning, Sally (Elsa Silberstein) – a miserable cleaning woman – is tidying the house. When Jean questions the number of cleaners, Henry is adamant that there is only one helper.
           Things get tense and the police, Hackney (Mitch Strawser) and Jez (Xavier Hazard) are called in.

‘The Many Funerals of Beckett Fitzgerald’, a dark comedy by UWA student, Harry Goodlet.

The set is Fitzgerald’s funeral parlour, prepared for Paul’s funeral. To the left of the stage is a home kitchen.
Dressed in black, at the rear of the stage, is a quartet lead by pianist, Matt Ho. His musicians are Minami Uemoto on flute, Nic Camer-Pesci on cello with Brock Stannard-Brown (alternating with Eugene Tan) on bassoon. The fine incidental music was composed by Jet Kye Chong, and balanced by sound technician, Scott Jennings.

        A nervous young priest, Father West (Nick Morlet) calls into the Fitzgerald’s funeral parlour to see his old school friend, the local undertaker, Beck (Ben Thomas). Having little internment experience, Beck is pleased to give the priest some advice on addressing the bereaved. Suddenly the doors fly open and the departed’s family flow in.
        The grieving widow, Beth (Elsa Silberstein) is there with her new boyfriend. Hovering in the shadows are Ophelia (Lucy Rossen) and Drake (Mitch Strawser), a strange couple who are aficionados of funerals – anyone’s funeral.
        When Beck returns home after work, he finds his daughter Molly (Allegra Di Francesco) after years of friction, has returned home. Her vague partner, Alex (Xavier Hazard), accompanies her. Since Molly’s last trip home, her Mum has died, and it seems her uncaring Dad has a new girlfriend, April (Nina Heymanson).

The writing of both plays is exceptional. Both men obviously have a wild and dry sense of humour, which has translated to the script wonderfully. The styles of writing are very different, and quite novel. In both plays, the quirky characterisation is superb, with every cast member giving great depth to their role.
Either of these plays could be taken up by an agent, or developed into a TV series.
Anais Asotoff and Steven Correis’ lighting was used to great effect in both plays.
The costumes ranged from frumpy to semi-Gothic (Joshua Sanchez Lawson, Nina Heymanson and Sherri Fuentes). Well matched to the personalities.
The experienced co-directors of both plays are Rupert Williamson and Harry Goodlet. It is always wise to have a second person involved, when the playwright directs a play. Here, the co-directors have employed a dramaturg, Jackson Used, who has learned his skills the hard way – at WAAPA, and as a children’s party performer!
The first piece is played straight, and the deadpan humour just falls beautifully into place. In the second play, the pace was a little slow, but again some very funny lines, perfectly delivered with just a touch of pathos thrown in.
A couple of very funny plays served to us by two wonderful casts. There are a few in this group that could be destined for greatness.
A short season but well worth seeing. Guaranteed a few smiles.