Holidays – we all love them and most of us enjoy going away for them. However, probably all of us enjoy watching, either on film or stage, the misfortunes of others suffering humorous horror holidays.
The British seem particularly adept at this style of comedy – the Carry On team went there with Carry on Abroad, and Grace Bros department store suffered from el cheapo tours in both the film and stage versions of Are You Being Served?
Dave Freeman’s A Bedfull of Foreigners has all the required ingredients: a hotel from Hell (set in France near the German border, allowing for jokes aimed at both nationalities); a no-nonsense manager; less than reliable staff; mistaken identity; teddies (and not of the bear variety); less than co-operative radiators; the obligatory monks and nuns; women looking for peace and quiet; and men looking for a piece and not so much quiet.
Director Holly Holliday (an appropriate name for this venture) presents Tea Tree Players’ audiences with a faithful rendition of this play, set on Damon Hill’s strong set, nicely dressed as always by Beth Venning. Sound by Mike Phillips is good, but this reviewer would personally like to hear the radiator gurgle more.
The fault with the play is that Act One is unnecessarily wordy with exposition galore and unrequired minutiae thrown about like snow over the French Alps. Act Two is by far the better half, being faster and far funnier.
In the difficult role of Head Porter, Karak, Terry Boswell does indeed seem to have difficulties, often slowing the action down in scenes where his character should be pivotal. As his boss, Frank Cwiertniak fares better and is suitably dour and po-faced, however, tends to deliver quite a few of his lines in monotone.
As bumbling innocent abroad, Stanley, Andrew Dowling is marvellous, having all the correct moves, ineptness, and comic timing required (especially with his hilarious strip tease). He works well with Nick Hargreaves as the aggressive Englishman abroad. Hargreaves uses his frame well and doesn’t look half cute in black hats.
The stars of this production though, are the three females, Georgia Stockham, Chris Galipo and wonderful new find, Charlotte Potter. Stockham portrays British holiday-making frustration so well, it’s a shame we don’t see more of her character; Galipo is tremendously teutonic; whilst Potter is sensationally sexy as French striptease artiste, Simone.
Tea Tree Players unashamedly cater to its patrons (as all good community theatre groups should) and A Bedfull of Foreigners is no exception. It provides for a fun, entertaining time out.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Tea Tree Players Theatre, cnr Yatala Vale Road & Hancock Road, Surrey Downs
Season: 1 – 11 October 2014
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins, including interval
Tickets: $13.00 – $15.00
Bookings: Phone 82895266 or tickets at the door if not sold out