Presented by St Jude’s Players Inc.
Reviewed 23 April 2021
St Jude’s Players have again staged a cracking show. This is the first in Alan Ayckbourn’s Damsels in Distress trilogy of plays and is well directed by Les and Teresa Zetlein. This comedy has everything one expects from Ayckbourn – the master satirist of middle-class manners.
Shelley Hampton is brilliant as Lynette, the once-wealthy dot com businesswoman who has lost everything – including her husband who has absconded with her erstwhile partner and she is reduced to cleaning offices rather than running them. Gabi Douglas, as her somewhat difficult teenage daughter Sorrell, is outstanding as is her dim-witted friend Kelly – wonderfully portrayed by Pru Cassar.
Sorrell’s character is wise beyond her years in many ways but when her plan to make money by becoming an internet call girl, very reluctantly aided by Kelly, starts to fall apart we see her naivety even while we are laughing at her antics. The scene where Sorrell, now called Mandy, seeks to entice her first client, Leo, into bed, is both funny and troubling.
Anthony Vawser plays Leo, an incredibly dull retired dry cleaner, with exactly the right amount of sanctimony – he really is not a man who visits prostitutes. Not to spoil the plot, I can’t say what the outcome of his visit is except to say he makes a great impression in a very short time!
The second act of the play has a different tone and is somewhat darker. Lindsay Dunn effortlessly makes us like Dan the police sergeant when he first appears. He seems so friendly and reasonable, and we are somewhat taken aback when he begins to berate Lynette for, what he views as, her moral failures – but it is a change Dunn makes us believe in.
Grace, a bible bashing policewoman, very well played by Caroline Kaye, is cleverly used to highlight even further the hypocrisy of the times. The appearance of the final character Troy, the reporter from gossip magazine As It Is, artfully portrayed by Simon Lancione with just the right amount of sleaze,wraps up the action as we are left with the question, will Lynette sell out as everyone else appears to have done?
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Venue: St Jude’s Hall, 444 Brighton Rd, Brighton
Season: April 22 to May 1
Tickets: $25 Conc. $20
Bookings: https://www.stjudesplayers.asn.au/bookings/ mobile: 0436 262 628 (9am – 5:30pm, Mon-Fri)