‘A Kick in the Baubles’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by October 30, 2017

‘A Kick in the Baubles’ is described by the publishers as an adult farce, but is actually a very funny drama. It was written in 2005 by Teesside-born playwright, Gordon Steel. For twenty-five years now, Gordon has been writing and directing comedies, for both the theatre and TV.

The Joondalup Encore Theatre Society (JETS), in the Padbury Community Hall, 15 Caley Road (just off Whitford’s Ave), in Padbury is presenting this hilarious comedy, each Friday and Saturday evening at 8.00, until Saturday 4th November. There are matinée performances on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th October at 3.00 pm.

The map on the society’s Facebook page shows the theatre marked on a road with a very similar name in Padbury, just north of London!

There are mild, inoffensive, M-rated themes throughout the play, but they will put a smile on your face; no doubt, you will have a few relatives who are ‘is just like that’.

 

The set is simply a beige suede, three-piece suite with a couple of coffee tables and a Christmas tree. The walls are black drapes.

The full lighting rig comprises two, three-metre tripods on the auditorium floor, each with an old, incandescent flood and a spotlight. There was no stage lighting. The sound system was two, old speaker units supported on a stand – again one on each side of the stage. The sound mixer was an ancient unit with dirty, worn out pots. Operator Tim Longley did a fine job with what he had.

If any community theatre has some old style lamps, or a mixer / fader desk unit that they do not want, this enthusiastic society, who are keen to get ahead, would be MOST grateful.

 

Scene: It is Christmas Eve in the London, middle-class home of Frank and Jean Bailey. Their house décor is rather tatty, other than a brand new carpet in the lounge.

The stage manager was Andrew Fairfoul, and Vicky Williams assisted him.

       Frank (Peter Giles) is relaxing on the settee, trying to appear invisible. His wife, Jean (Diane Campbell) is on the rampage and starting to panic about their Christmas arrangements. Everything has to be ‘just perfect’ for the day.

       After a final shopping spree, Frank is given the task of decorating the artificial Christmas tree. As he struggles with the lights, one of his identical twin daughters, Alex (Aly Campbell) enters the room. In an aside to the audience, Frank confides that although beautiful, she is the runt of the litter, with very few brain cells.

     Next-door neighbour, Gary (Alex Halse) brings around his karaoke sound system and his hot – really hot – girlfriend, Julie (Riane Lake), who likes anything in trousers.

     Soon it is Christmas Day and the tensions have not eased. The strains of carol singers can be heard at the front door. It is actually Jean’s snooty sister, Doreen (Mary Angus) and her tedious, miserly, yet extremely wealthy husband, Harry (Rod McGrath) doing their annual boring ‘surprise, surprise’. Neither of the in-laws drinks – unless it is from someone else’s bottle.

     The family highlight is seeing twin Milly (Aly Campbell) and her nerdy boyfriend, Darren (Alex Halse).

       Will Christmas be peace and goodwill for the Bauble family?

Although this theatre group are one of Perth’s longest established, there have been occasions in the recent past when some of the shows were truly embarrassing, and I wondered if they would have any supporters left. Now, thanks to their dedicated director, Sharon Wigley, their acting standards – and the general organisation – have come on leaps and bounds. This production was a breath of fresh air. All of the actors (a couple were new to the stage) were word perfect, and had a natural comedy delivery. They acted well as a team, showing great chemistry.

Some of the actors had to present their comedy with subtlety, whereas others had to be well over-the-top, great work from Riane. Alex Halse had three very different characters to portray, and he was wonderful in each. Having two experienced actors like Diane and Peter ensured a good pace, whilst helping the others achieve their potential.

Extra seats had to be laid out, as director Sharon Wigley and the general helpers gave the larger than expected, appreciative audience – a very warm welcome. The Society is low on helpers, such as an assistant director, set designer and constructor, a props finder, a box office helper, programme pusher, and a costume advisor, all missing. A techie advisor who can do a little pushing at the Shire for lighting scaffold poles above the stage and the auditorium, to support the ideal lamp rig; and then someone else who can search for other basic equipment. Some folding tiered seating (perhaps 5 layers) with comfortable chairs would be great – maybe try Lotto or the Shire for a bit of financial help. Have a chat to Stirling Players, Harbour, or Phoenix for advice on their seating.

A room divider placed obliquely in front of the Bio Box table at the side of the audience, would hide the operator, and yet still allow him to see the stage. This would be less distracting for the audience.

To all concerned, well done. A most enjoyable show.

This fun show is one of the best-priced community productions in the Perth area, with tickets 40% cheaper than many venues.