‘100 Lunches’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by May 25, 2018

‘100 Lunches – A Gourmet Comedy’ is a fun little comedy suitable for all ages. Written in 1989 by Jack Sharkey, this play was delivered partly in the style of ‘Fawlty Towers’. His first novel in 1941 was at the age of 10, and then he sold his first short story at age 18. His writing skills have progressed a little since then. In writing this play, he joined forces with Leo W. Sears.

The play’s official running time of 90-minutes stretched to 120-minutes – after allowing for the 20 minute interval.

This light-hearted ‘chewing gum for the mind’ can be seen at The Garrick Theatre, Meadow Street, Guildford every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 9th June. There are matinées at 2.00 pm on Sunday 27th May and 3rd June.

 

The scenes: It is present day, in the Long Island of home of the Reynolds family; along with a series of ethnic New York restaurants.

The quality set was designed and built by Les Lee. The main set is a comfortable, smart living room in a wealthy home. The walls are pale grey, waist-high wood panelling, with dark grey and white, French styled ‘flock’ wallpaper above. There are grey chairs and a two-seater settee.

The stage revolved several times, to reveal a collection of both classy and grubby Manhattan restaurants. The pale restaurant wall, with inventive and colourful lighting styles ensured a convincing change of eating establishments. A few well-chosen pictures, table cloths and dining furniture quickly established the nationality and star rating. Well done props suppliers, Rob Vincent and Grannie Friel. Grannie also supplied the numerous cuisines from prawn cocktails to hot dogs – I advise you take an airline sick bag for one establishment.

Stage manager, Tom Goode, and the scene changers, Morgan Hyde and Terry Brown, worked silently on the ‘other side’ of the revolve. The amount of props changing for the several restaurants shown was considerable, but they had it all well planned.

The clever lighting and good sound effects were the work of Edi Boross and Carlise Kearney.

      Celebrated playwright Charlton ‘Chuck’ Reynolds (Alan Shaw) last night celebrated the launch of his latest thriller novel. Chuck’s housekeeper (Vee McGuire) is busy cleaning up the strewn clothing in the sitting room, when into the house staggers Chuck’s son, Terry (Matthew Roberts) carrying an armful of neighbours’ newspapers. He has removed them from their lawns, before they see the brutal reviews. In the past, theatre reviewer Charity Starr (Jennifer McGrath) has always given Chuck a vicious slating.

     Seconds later, immaculately dressed, beautiful Charity arrives at their front door. Shamelessly, she wants Chuck to help her in writing her own play. Surprisingly Chuck agrees, but only if he can give her advice over a series of lunches, with Charity paying the bill!! Chuck’s idea is to have his revenge on this malicious writer, by draining her purse whilst giving her terrible advice and to leave her with a literary disaster.

      Chuck chooses a series of New York’s finest restaurants that seem to all be staffed by the same family of hare-brained waiters (Andrew Lee).

      When the brassy Bronx chick next door, Yolanda (Colleen Bradford) hears of these meals, she fears that the man of her dreams – Chuck – is escaping her grip.

      Will Chuck’s revenge on Charity work?

 

A director has certain responsibilities to his audience. First chose a quality play; sadly the first Act of this one was poorly written and quite un-funny. Select a cast that is suitable for the genre and a successful comedy requires special skills, but here sadly only two or three of the cast managed to deliver the thin humour. Don’t be kind hearted and take someone into the team simply because they are friends, or you want to give them a chance – even if the audition was not as good as it should have been.

Chuck enumerates and describes throughout the play what skills Charity should be concentrating on in her writing, and yet this play’s script fails to act on many of these techniques itself.

Subtle humour usually works best, and Jennifer and Andrew were naturals, and top notch.

The costumes were amazing. Charity looked beautiful with her designer clothes and bling. Yolanda was perfect with her bright orange Christmas tree outfit.The series of waiters costumes were well thought out and certainly a highlight.

The motivation and chemistry between many of the actors was lacking, but in the second Act the script improved, and especially the restaurant scenes brought quite a few laughs.

I have seen many satisfying productions from director Les Lee and several of these actors, but I left a little disappointed. Perhaps as the season progresses the flow, pace and interaction will improve. Chookas to all concerned.