‘Playing the Fool’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 9, 2017

‘Playing the Fool’ is the title of Stirling Theatre’s 2017 comedy One-Act season’. These three short plays are extremely funny.

The two and a quarter hour show has curtain up at 8.00 pm. each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until 9th September. The performances are being presented by the Stirling Theatre Players, at the Stirling Theatre, Morris Place, in Innaloo.

The stage management was by Yvette and Dave Wall. The sound for all plays was by Ian Wilson, and the lighting by Carole Wilson. This husband and wife team consistently have the best pre-curtain rising routine. The warning message, the pre-show music, the slow fading of the curtain lights, and then, when the curtain opens, the correct speed of raising the stage lights; sounds a simple task but few theatres get it so smooth.

 

‘Varsity Blues’ is a 20-minute sketch, written by local jester and linguistic pedant, Bob Charteris.

Scene:  Today in a typical home.

       University lecturer, Frank (Bob Charteris) is uptight about his application for a senior post in the English Department. Vera (Janet Weston) tries to pacify him, as she prepares for the four obnoxious grandchildren’s daily visit. Perhaps a few jokes from the local vicar, Walter (Jonathan Freedman) might lighten the situation.

Directed by Bob Charteris, this family situation – with which many of the audience obviously connected – brought plenty of smiles.

 

‘Please Sit on My Throne’ is a very funny, 40-minute Act written by talented WA playwright and actor, Yvette Wall. The script is a clever blend of farce, and smudged historical events.

Very good costumes, thanks to Fran Gordon and Carol Hughes.

The year is 1581. The scene is the private living quarters of Queen Elizabeth the First of England. (Scotland’s QE 1 being the present Queen). There is a throne and a table loaded with food.

 

        Yet again, Lord Walsingham (Sean Bullock) is manipulating Queen Lizzie (Nat Djurdjevic – superbly played in the style of Blackadder’s Queen). He asks the Sovereign to sign a document agreeing to award Francis Drake (Peter Neaves) a knighthood – but what was the scroll she was signing really for?

        When the Queen hears that her Scottish cousin, Mary Stuart (Jay Shaw) has been locked up in The Tower for 19 years, Lizzie decides to invite her around for afternoon tea. As she awaits her cousin’s arrival, Walsingham decides that something must be done about the Virgin Queen, namely find a suitor, and so he calls randy Prince Erik of Sweden (Peter Neaves) to help out.

 

Another very well written play from Yvette. The dialogue flowed well, and director Andrew Watson presented the play with a bold, but tongue-in-cheek style. The actors responded perfectly with a touch of ‘ham’. A very funny comedy, that will make any man who has considered sailing around the world think twice.

This is a very saleable play, and I can recommend it to community theatres everywhere.

I saw this play on what would have been Bess’s 484th birthday, and she still looked as young as ever.

 

‘The Fat Lady Sings in Little Grimly’ is the third in David Tristram’s wonderful ‘Little Grimly’ series. Tristram was born at Quarry Bank in Staffordshire 60 years ago. He has written more than two dozen plays, all with a farcical slant.

The scene is the present day in an English village hall.

        Three of the local Community Theatre players are seated around a table, about to discuss their latest production that finished a couple of weeks ago – with a major deficit. The secretary / treasurer is Joyce (Lis Hoffmann), a dim and easily confused, middle-aged woman who has no mathematical skills, and does not know how to take notes for the Minutes. When well-educated, but intolerant Gordon (Paul Anderson) verbally abuses her, she puts her pen down and refuses to do any more. Thankfully, uppity Margaret (Jay Shaw who is remarkably like TV’s Penelope Keith), pacifies Joyce and tries to be a little more positive.

       Still wearing his labouring overalls and munching a banana, Bernard (Peter Nettleton) enters, and suggests an ingenious way of clearing the clubs mounting debt. But will it work?

 

Directed by Christine Ellis, this play simply but flawlessly, romps along with a laugh a minute. The storyline is ridiculous, but who cares? It is fresh, mad and presented by the cast and director with pizzazz. The grasp of the characters and the pace were perfect.

Most enjoyable.

Three very different comedies, but they all guaranteed a great night out for the audience.