‘Love Me Slender’ is a dark comedy by London playwright, Vanessa Brooks; it was first produced at Scarborough in 1996. Vanessa who was born 50 years ago in Dulwich, first trained as an actor, before gaining a residence position with playwright Alan Ayckbourn. After working her way up through the ranks, by acting in the London Fringe and repertory theatres, Vanessa started writing her own plays. Now Vanessa is Artistic Director of the ‘Full Body and the Voice Theatre Company’.
It is unusual to find a play with a cast of more women than men; here we have seven actresses and no male actors.
The Kalamunda Dramatic Society are presenting this two-hour comedy at their KADS Theatre in the Town Square, Barber Street, Kalamunda each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening at 8.00 pm until Saturday 13th May.
The scene is the dilapidated changing room of a church hall in the Perth Hills. The walls have waist-high, dark wood panels, with cracking cream plaster above, all held together with dirt and cobwebs. Set designer Geoff Rumsey and his construction team of Bill Weighell, Paul Hodges, Richard Woolman, Geoff Rumsey and Owen Davis have really captured the venue.
Sandra Sando, Graeme Dick, and Alexis Marr supplied the props and furnishings.
The sound design was by Julie Hicking, who at times had to work in close sync with the lighting designer, Stephen Marr. The tech operators were Stephen Marr, Andre Du Preez and Linda Redman.
Stage manager was Lesley Broughton, who carried out the brief scene changes in dim light, with Sandra Sando who was hilarious cursing in her Edinburgh accent at the disgusting mess she had to clear up. A fun touch that kept the audience primed with humour. Sometimes, long scene changes can mean that the cast have to start warming their audience after every break.
A withdrawn teenager, Kelly (Laura Goodlet) is quietly waiting for her group trainer from ‘Slim for Life’, Siobhán (Siobhán Vincent) to arrive. A new member arrives; she is chubby Claudette (Cathy Parr) from Gosnell’s, who wants to lose weight to please her new husband. Then there is middle-aged Lucinda (Marsha Holt), who is hoping to get a new job and wants to look her best.
Siobhán arrives looking tight, taut and terrific, and wastes no time in telling her students how exceedingly fat they all are, and how a simple chocolate biscuit is equivalent to two hours exercise. Wealthy Siobhán is an uncaring, demanding woman with her income ever to the fore. Young Rosie (Sarah Langridge) has fallen in love, but is eating to help her overcome rejection. Retired housewife, Celia (Raelene Cover) wants to lose a few kilos, but Siobhán is relentless, pointing out the five stages of slimming, and how successful her star pupil, Jean (Charlotte Weber) has been. However, Siobhán will not allowing the highly successful student but to leave the group, after all that would be a lost fee!
The group is close, but just how much power does Siobhán have over them? What is the true price of a having a beautiful figure?
Award-winning director, Anita Bound, has skilfully directed this very funny play. Anita has selected a group of actors who really had superb chemistry, with all interacting magnificently together.
Rose Weighell’s costumes brought out the characters, and the ridiculous situations. The play is a dark comedy, but for some strange reason, the playwright has added a 10-minute scene at the end of the play that is totally uncharacteristic of what has gone before. It is extremely dark, and many of the audience asked ‘What was that about?’ Spoiler clue: Resurrection, revenge and supernatural.
This final scene was flawlessly directed, and most sensitively acted; however, the directors of some other productions have taken the decision to change this black and disturbing ending, as it kills the wonderful, fun mood that has gone before, causing the audience leave the theatre on a low note.
Having said that, please do not be put off, this very funny play has hilarious story threads that we will all recognise. The cast were superb. Brash Claudette gave many a belly laugh – if bellies are allowed at a slimming club. Lucinda and Celia were not going to be bullied, neither was Jean – but she could not quite face up to the egotistical, bullying trainer. Your heart really went out to the two young girls who suffered incredibly. Special praise must go to Siobhán whose powerful, arrogant performance made everyone squirm.
A good solid production. Congratulations to all.