‘You’ve got HATE MAIL’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by October 15, 2018

‘You’ve got HATE MAIL’ has been described as ‘The perfect bedroom farce’, running for an incredible 4 years when it Premiered in June 2010. The comedy was written by American movie actors, Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore, and is based around email love affairs. Jane began her career in the USA before moving to Australia.

This hilarious, 120-minute ARENAarts production is certainly a comedy of errors for adults. The show is performed in-the-round, with the actors getting up close to the audience! But don’t worry there is no one being dragged onto the stage or being embarrassed.

This innovative storyline can be seen at the Roxy Lane Theatre, Maylands’ Autumn Centre, City Government Office, 55 Ninth Avenue in Maylands.

After years of wandering in the wilderness, ARENAarts have found this new, hopefully permanent, venue. It has plenty of free parking and the building has huge potential. The stage is quite small, but it has proper proscenium curtains. The lighting equipment is basic, so this first production was cleverly selected mainly using the auditorium floor as the stage.

The evening shows commence 8.00 pm on Friday and Saturday until 27th October. The matinée shows are on Sunday 14th and 21st October, and they commence at 2.00 pm.

The scene: At one end of the auditorium are three offices in a solicitors’ practice.

At the other end are two homes.

The set: The offices are all represented by desks mounted on individual 60 cms high plinths. Each character is immediately demonstrated by the assortment of gadgets on their desks, from lipsticks and family photos, to a toy Dr Who ‘phone box. The laptop screens are represented by a variety of coloured wooden frames, mounted vertically; however, the frames are empty and so allow the audience to watch the expressions of the operators.

The audience seating comprises four rows of 15 seats, two on each side of the hall, facing into the central performance space.

 

       Middle-aged senior lawyer, Richard (Ron Arthurs) is having an affair with a young legal secretary, Wanda (Robyn McCoy) – who spends most of her day reading ’50 shades of Grey’ and thinking of sex.

       Richard gives his wife Stephanie (Allira Humberstone) a new laptop, but Stephanie hardly knows how to turn it on, and has no computer skills. She relies upon her best friend, Peg (Amy Swerlowycz) to guide her through the wonders of the internet.

       Later in the day, the passionate email that Richard intended for Wanda was sent to Stephanie in error. Richard desperately begs the junior solicitor in the next office, George (Anthony Smith), who has many undesirable computer skills, to help cancel the email.

       Will Richard get there in time to save his marriage?

 

Simon James has shown imagination in creating this, his first production for ARENAarts in their new home. Simon generously chose two, new-to-the-stage actors, Robyn and Amy. Although they have both have had filming experience, live Community Theatre is more demanding and they were superb. Anthony Smith as the sex crazed nerd was a first-class replacement, only joining the cast two weeks ago, he was word perfect. Ron managed to keep his panic up as the situation deteriorated, and well done Allira as the innocent wife who was being lied to. The whole team worked most convincingly together.

The cast had to keep up a very fast pace, as the pandemonium and confusion was delivered with this very tricky and hilarious script. With the most unusual style of delivery, none of the characters met face-to-face at any time during the play which means that the interaction for the cast was purely auditory, with all connections being over computer, phone or iPad. The dialogue was quite explicit, but it kept the audience laughing out loud throughout this riotous play.

Every success in your new venue. A major plus factor, the seats are comfortable. Chookas.

We all know what   xoxoxox   means at the end of a letter, but what does   xxxVooo   mean? – You will have to see the play to learn the answer.