Presented by Matt Byrne Media
Reviewed 7 October 2015
“What’s it all about, Alfie?” was a popular catch-phrase during the late 1960s due to Burt Bacharach’s hit song written for the 1966 film, Alfie. The movie made a star of a young Michael Caine and was written for the screen by Bill Naughton, based on his stage play of the same name. Matt Byrne has resurrected the play and tells us what it’s all about, Adelaide.
Alfie Elkins is a chauvinistic womaniser – and that’s his good quality! Ladies, this is not a man you would bring home to mother: if he ever had a moral clock, it has definitely ticked its last tock. Women are his playthings and work-horses; and are always insultingly referred to as ‘it’.
The social mores of this play are supremely unique to the 60s, particularly the East End of London. Byrne shows that he is acutely aware of this with great attention to detail in costumes, props and a killer soundtrack of the greatest classic 60s hits ever. The authentic Cockney accents from the majority of the cast aren’t bad either (although there is at least one Northerner that has crept through).
To play the role of Alfie is not an easy ask of an actor: he is on stage 98 per cent of the time and while being despicable, must carry the audience along in the palm of his hand. Marc Clement is excellent as the spiv-like cheeky Cockney: so authentic in his characterisation that one can almost hear the sound of Bow Bells whenever he moves. Clement draws the audience in immediately – much like Alfie does with his conquests – cheerily offering us drinks and flowers, only to turn nasty at the drop of a flat cap. This is a sterling performance, and though we despise the character, we applaud the actor vigorously.
Clement is backed up by a fine cast of sixteen other actors; some only in the smallest of roles, but all adding to the whole well. Niki Yiannoullou, Kristen Tommasini, Heather Riley (with the most emotional exit ever), Anjali Sarma and Kacy Ratta all underplay simpering, doting females beautifully; while Kim York, Bronwyn Ruciak, Nadine Wood and Victoria Morgan are wonderfully strong as the less beguiled women in Alfie’s life.
The men (Reg Hamlyn, Sean Hilton, John Matsen, Daniel Knowles, Nick Stagg, Loccy Hywood and Byrne) deliver their characters nicely and succinctly. Byrne gives one of his best performances as the soft-spoken Dr Smith, with marvellous menace; whilst Hilton and Knowles make the transition from musical to non-musical theatre well.
Accolades must be given to stage manager Amber Forbes and her brilliant black-clad, ninja-like stage crew. They made what so easily could have been clumsy complicated scene changes seem like a breeze and almost a show in itself to happily watch.
What’s it all about? – A very good production of Alfie!
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Holden Street Theatres 34 Holden Street, Hindmarsh
Season: 7 – 24 October 2015
Duration: Approx 2 hours 30 mins (including interval)
Tickets: $25 – $30 Group (10 or more) $22 – $27
Bookings: 8262 4906, [email protected], online at www.mattbyrnemedia.com.au, BASS or dramatix.com.au