‘Cocky’s Crossing’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by December 1, 2017

‘Cocky’s Crossing’ is a hilarious comedy set to music. It is the third of four plays written by Mundaring resident, actor and author, Max Harvey. Over the years, Max has starred in around 40 plays at the Garrick. Although written 30-years ago, this musical is still as fresh and topical as ever, with fun lyrics and eighteen catchy tunes.

This Garrick Theatre Club production can be seen at the Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street, in Guildford. The two-hour performances have curtain-up at 8.00 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings until 9th December. With Sunday matinées on the 26th November, and the 3rd December at 2.00 pm. A genuine Cocky’s high tea will be available for the bargain price of $5.

 

The scene is a pub beyond the black stump in the north of WA about the mid-1960s

 Robert Vincent’s outstanding set is in the style of a Wild West bar, with corrugated walls and a tin roof – a horrendous material to work with, but worth it. There are two or three tables with three chairs at each. A staircase leads up to the bedrooms. There is a jarrah bar with a blackboard displaying the finest of fare – pie and chips 1/6d. Rob was assisted in the construction by R.J. Smolders and Roy Phillips. The bush scenes depicted in the artwork are courtesy of Carol Keppler.

Geoff Hall and Edi Boross created a most effective lighting plan, with the odd special effect.

Terry Brown was the stage manager, and was assisted by Marion West and Anne Templeman both on stage, and in acquiring the vast selection of props covering a couple of centuries.

 

       The outback hotel’s manager – and general dog’s body – Marlene (Colleen Hopkins) is calling for her three daughters, Raelene (Colleen Bradford), Charlene (Fiona Forster) and the young, surprise baby, Darlene (Jenna McGougan-Shaw) to help. Having been abandoned by her husband, and with virtually no business, life is tough. The opening song, ‘Another Bloody Day at Cocky’s Crossing’ spells out the mood of the place.

      In the corner of the bar sits the local garage mechanic, young and handsome, John (Sam Tilbrook) who is playing dominoes with Tuckerbox (John Gwilym), an old fella who has spent years searching for a lost treasure trove of gold. Into the bar strides Davo (Alan Shaw), a revhead who thinks of himself as the town’s sex symbol, but with only Tuckerbox as competition, he could be correct.

     The sound of a bus can be heard drawing up. Into the bar strolls the tour operator, Bill (Graham Miles) followed by a group of foreign tourists, seeing the real outback. There is the loud American (Kerry Goode), the demure English lady (Marsha Holt) and a rough Aussie lass (Barbara Brown).

      Just as the daughters are serving the hot and sweaty travellers, another couple arrive. A decorous, young blonde, Mary Baxter (Megan West) and her respectable English father, Alfred (Les Lee) gasp at the décor as they enter. Alf announces to Marlene that he has just purchased the hotel from her ex-husband, and is now the proud owner.

      Within minutes, Mary is bored, and so settles down in the corner to write another one of her imagination packed tales. As usual, the story revolves around her environment, a historical event or a book she has just read – naturally, with her alter ego, Maria in the leading role, but as a slimmer, dark haired and outgoing, desirable woman, Maria (Isabella Bourgalt).

      Can there be any hope or future for the residents of Cocky’s Crossing?

 

With more than a dozen catchy melodies, and fun lyrics this show shone from the opening.

The director is one of WA’s best, Susan Vincent. Although there is a large cast, Susan has managed to keep the actors moving, so that the small stage did not look overcrowded. She had a wonderful selection of actors, all of whom sang at some point; some not only surprised me with the quality of their voices, but I suspect may have surprised themselves too. Sometimes a weak singer may be slightly withdrawn with their delivery, but in this show everyone just ‘went for it’, giving it full strength and the result was delightful. After all, this is an outback hotel so operatic voices would seem out of place – except for the fictional Maria, as she could be (and was) as perfect a singer as Mary wanted.

The choreographer was the multitalented, Kerry Goode, who was assisted in the many styles of dancing – from Riverdance to Charleston – by Colleen Bradford and Isabella Bourgalt. The performers seemed at home with all of the techniques, giving flawless presentations.

The wardrobe mistresses, Jackie Campbell and Narelle Borbely produced plain cotton dresses with paper nylon petticoats, through to sumptuous 1920s numbers and colourful Mexican. The old larrikan’s beige number, to the trouper’s uniform. A massive amount of work.

Musical director, Kendra Smith had to guide the large cast through several genres including ballads, country and western, then with a love song for good measure. Kendra also accompanied the performers on electric keyboard, with just the correct level of volume and a few effects thrown in.

The sad thing is that this brilliant, guaranteed audience-puller seems to have sat for decades untouched. This really is the ideal show for community theatres looking for a drawcard to boost their attendances.

This show is energy packed, vibrant fun, highly recommended, however the season was almost sold out from the first day.