‘An Unspeakable Triumph of Supreme Brilliance’ reviewed by Gordon the Optomby Gordon The Optom June 27, 2017
‘An Unspeakable Triumph of Supreme Brilliance’ is an extremely funny comedy by American playwright Don Zolidis. An almost unheard of act, Don Zolidis took the time to Skype the students from America, encouraging them in every way, a most kind gesture.
This play is the seventh annual, ‘Senior Production’ at the New Norcia, Holy Cross College in Ellenbrook. The Years 10, 11 and 12 students have put their hearts into this production. On arrival at the College, I was met by a student, who guided me through the Campus to the theatre. Often the box office, programme selling and interval refreshments are run by the parents, however, here the youngsters themselves Aimee Sorensen, Lexi Pether, Isabella McPherson, Charlene Kunaka, Angela Gethin and Chloé Andrews did every task – great training and experience.
The poster designer, Mya Ubalde, along with the media and promotion managers, Daniel Docker and Carolyn Jess ensured a sell-out show every night.
The curtain went up on this contemporary, two-hour madcap show at 6.30 pm on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th June.
The scene is the Moss River Community Theatre Company’s rehearsal hall.
Chris McRae, who designed the simple set, was assisted in the construction by Sara O’Neill, Matt Smyth, and Roger Newton.
Stage left is a door that leads into the rehearsal room, with a settee and desk centre stage. A costume rack is up stage. The flats were made of dense polystyrene (WA Polystyrene), so that the pandemonium of the last Act could be more spectacular. The efficient stage managers were Alex Smilovitis and Austen Staples, and their speedy, well-organised stagehands Jeighten Finch and Tristan Hall.
In charge of the technical side, were Guy Jackson and Chris McRae. The lighting designer was Aran Burke and the sound designer Anthony Menegola, both produced good smooth work.
Guy Jackson, Laura Goodwin and Ben Chapman assisted the overall supervision of this wild production, which flowed flawlessly.
The play opens as the inept Moss River group of actors gather for a rehearsal. The highly flamboyant, but bumbling director, Samson (John Paul Botha) is talking to his disinterested stage manager, the moody Goth, Loren (Abbey’Lee Quantock). They are showing an inquisitive newspaper reporter, Letitia (Chardonnay Mitchell) around their setup. In the corner of the room is seated their unimaginative and untalented playwright, Dave (James Evans). With him is Bob (Calvin Thiel), who weighs in at 200 kilos; Bob enjoys being around theatricals, but dreads having to act – due to his heart problem.
The mediocre group start to rehearse their play. Bob has to carry his new bride, the 7th grade English teacher, Audrey (Laila Davies) through a room door. By the third attempt, Bob is purple in the face and wheezing badly. Once on the stage, the bumptious real estate agent, Delilah (Brianna Armstrong) is determined to appear in every scene. Across the stage, the caring and star struck Tilly (Chloé Ryan) is moving in on Dave, her latest love interest.
The reporter then reveals that in her youth, she was a minor member of this very same mediocre troupe, but now she is the wife of the third richest man in the world. Letitia then offers a ten million dollar prize for the best community theatre show presented in North Central Minnesota. The catch is there are only two days left to write, cast, and produce their competition entry. Audrey has ambitions of performing a classic, but instead, Dave is commissioned to write a gory horror play.
The only other competitor for this massive cash prize is The Red Barn team, led by their supercilious and snide artistic director, Svetlana Gustafson (Zophia Paluszak). She is aided by her wily saboteurs (Breannah Rigoli, Jasmin Horsten), who prove that when so much is at stake, nothing is safe – not even the costumes.
Who will win the money? Becoming acknowledged as the area’s best company of actors.
The director, Chris McRae and co-director Jackie Cuff, gave drama student Zophia Paluszak a big chance at assisting with the direction of these very talented Years 10, 11 and 12 students.
The cast had to adopt Minnesotan accents, and were very fortunate to have the guidance of WAAPA’s head voice coach, Julia Moody. The accents all matched – it is not unknown for every member of a cast to have a different accent from the east to the west coast. They have obviously learnt well, with a soft subtly to their enunciation, thankfully avoiding the obvious desire to put on a ghastly drawl.
The hair and makeup designers were Gabriella-Rose van der Linde, Jackie Cuff, Laura Goodwin and Edel Maher.
Colleen Azzopardi, Jackie Cuff and Laura Goodwin supervised the collection of colourful – and in Bob’s case, very strange – costumes, that were managed for the show by Maria Bravo-Echevarria, and her assistant Michelle Karuga.
Year 10 student, John Paul Botha, stepped in at the last moment, having only 7 weeks to learn the major part in the play that of the director Samson. He was magnificent. His whole body oozed enthusiasm and showed a natural flair for comedy. Every single member of the cast was perfectly rehearsed; there was not a single hesitation or fluff. The chemistry in every scene was electric, this allowed their lines to flow and the interaction was superb. Any well-established, adult community theatre group would be proud to present such quality. Farcical comedy is a difficult genre to present, as it only takes one member of the cast to ruin the effect, but this company worked magnificently together. Not a weak link in sight.
The characters in the story were richly written, and the performers totally understood their personalities. Zophia was wonderful as the snarling, almost venomous Svetlana. Brianna did not hold back in her portrayal of the egotistical Delilah, and Calvin really had the audience expecting him to die at any moment. Superb direction and great grasp of the genre.
A triumph for all.