‘The Irish Theatre Players’ One Act Season – 2018’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 6, 2018

‘The Irish Theatre Players’ One Act Season – 2018’ is a collection of three top-class plays by three of Perth’s best playwrights. Two are very funny, light-hearted comedies and the other is based on a true, First World War set of events.

This very short season runs from Wednesday 5th to Saturday 8th with the 130-minute shows starting at 8.00 pm. There is one Sunday matinée on 9th September at 2.00 pm. You can catch these well written and professionally produced plays by the Irish Theatre Players, at their theatre in the welcoming Irish Club WA, 61 Townshend Road in Subiaco.

 

The lighting and sound design for all of the plays was by John Spurling. John has been producing top-rate teching for some years now, and so in the tradition that ‘One Act Seasons’ are ideal to give new writers, actors and techies a chance to test their skills, he had three enthusiastic, teenage assistants operating the desks. Although they did well, they were not quite slick yet.

Quite a few new actors in these plays, all of whom excelled. Well done.

The basic set for each play was a room of dark grey flats, with two doors. The directors and cast then added finishing touches of their own.

‘The Interview’ is wonderful true-to-life comedy, drawn on personal experience of the playwright, Sean Byrne. Sean who was hidden backstage for decades, is proving his writing skills in different genres, having written a moving monologue – ‘Stones’ – about three years ago for the Limelight Theatre’s one act plays, he brings a few belly laughs in this play.

 

       The manager of a major car dealership, Mr. Nolan (Ultan Kiely) is interviewing candidates for a mechanic’s apprenticeship, but he is finding it hard to get worthwhile answers. As he works his way through the pile of applications, he is becoming more despondent especially when his secretary, Nicola (Siobhán Rushe), shows in Jason (Oliver Hughes – spot on) a cool dude.

     Then there is Sam (Parker Horne) a promising, private school boy, followed by Danni (Astrid Dainton – in top gear) a revhead girl. Finally Nicola shows in Mrs O’Kelly (Hazel Beirne – brilliant) the mother we all dread, and her enthusiastic son, Bernard (Nathan Holland) – sorry, Benny!

Sean has given us tremendous characters, each with their own individual style of dialogue. I am sure many of the audience will cringe at the slovenly Jason and then at the matriarchal Mrs O’Kelly, as they recognise relatives they know well. Well directed by Sean, whose strong cast did him proud. Very funny.

 

‘Woodpecker and Hawk’ is the latest beautifully crafted drama by James Forte. This is a moving story, based on a year of real-life war experience. James’ stories have been on radio, and compilations are available in book form

The scene is the Officers’ Mess near Armentières in France.

 

       When an upper crust young airman, Lieutenant Woodpecker (Keelan Thompson) arrives at his first wartime base in France, he is greeted by a fellow Aussie, Captain Hawk (Mitchell Robinson) an extraordinary pilot. Over a drink of red wine, served by the officers’ batman, Corporal Baker (Robert Roy Jackson), Hawk explains the depressing life expectancy of airmen in the area.

       Woodie and Hawk form a great team, and have the strong support of their Major (Brian O’Donovan – plays two parts). Will they make it through the war? Or will they go the same way as a million others?

Director James Forte kept the action moving with good pace and well-trimmed dialogue. Without treating the audience as idiots, James accepted that many present would have been born decades after any war. He therefore gave clues to the meanings of technical phrases such as ‘an aerial dog fight’. The actors were excellent, with strong understanding of their characters, generally a fine pace and clear enunciation. When the script includes complex technical details, a strong accent or a foreign language, then a slower delivery is helpful for the audience.

The script showed clearly how the troops, by having a flippant attitude, managed to retain their sanity in times of intense danger.

Most successful, congratulations to all.

 

‘The Sisters of St Judas’ was written around 2014 by Yvette Wall, who is also an award nominated actor. Yvette has crafted several short plays for various Perth theatre clubs. This hilarious one-act rib tickler was last presented a year ago by The Garrick Theatre in Guildford. It has been further refined.

The scene: is the office in the Sisters of St Judas convent. There is a desk and chair.

 

       The convent’s Mother Superior has gone to Rome to take bread and wine with the Pope, and she has left the Convent in charge of Sister Job (Suzannah Churchman – delightful) who is efficient but laidback!

     The Sisters of St Judas have entered in the ‘Nuns of the Year’ competition, and are awaiting the arrival of the local Mother Superior-Superior (Denice Byrne) who will assess them. Sister Jezebel (Nikitta Poplar) who had an unusual past, bursts into the office to tell Sister Job that their oldest nun, the loopy Sister Benediction (Ursula Johnson) is having another senile brain storm.

       Tall, muscular – and slightly different – Sister Gabe (Jason Wall) has been observed during his ablutions by Sister Monk (Jacki Gahan – energy packed) a nun who has taken a vow of silence, but now has sooo much to impart.

Although Michael Balmer is a first time director, he has selected a wonderful, madcap cast. The actors were happy to become totally involved, let their hair down and keep the hilarity flowing. Dear Ursula – who dare I mention is WA’s oldest actress – was magnificent, showing that she still has all of her acting skills and qualities. The chemistry in the cast was especially good, with a brilliant rapport and delivery of a great script.

I have seen this play in the past, but it just gets better every time.

The storyline was fresh and gave everyone plenty of laughs, perfectly rounding off a great night out.