Presented by Tea Tree Players
Reviewed April 3rd 2019
It’s always a treat to see a Tea Tree Players production. The set is always beautifully constructed, the lights are spot on and the costumes always appropriate for the era and the work. Groping for Words is no exception to the rule. It looks great, there are some very special touches to the creche that the action is set in; the children’s art work from a local school adds a very special touch to the overall environment, and provides a very nice playpen for the four TTP actors to frolic in.
Sue Townsend was an icon of the early eighties for those of us lucky enough to remember her exciting protégé – Adrian Mole. We laughed, we identified, we did a bit of crying too at Adrian’s plight and this play has all the delightful twists and turns that accompany living in Thatcher’s Britain of the eighties. Unemployed men searching for a home, a young woman obsessed with being taken seriously, a janitor filling in for his boss and a teacher who uses her work to escape the tragic emotional wilderness that is her life, and all based around the participants in an adult literacy class.
Sounds a bit serious, hey? Well not in the hands of the four actors who bring Sue Townsends beautifully crafted play to life. Danni Fulcher gives Miss Chalmers a delightful and poignant edge in her nicely crafted characterisation of a potentially difficult role that demands a range of emotional textures which were delivered truthfully and to good effect. Keyarra Maur as Thelma Churchill, making her theatre debut for Tea Tree Players in her first appearance on stage, shows great promise. It takes great courage to step on stage for the first time in a role of this size which has a wide range of physical and emotional demands. Keyarra handled the task with integrity and will learn a lot from this first sojourn into the demands of a stage play.
George Humphries has done a thing or two, and this is evident in his performance as George Bishop; a little more focus to filling some of those awkward pauses might do a great deal for the characterisation and the pace and energy of the show. Last but by no means least, Samuel Creighton’s portrayal of Kevin Muldoon was the highlight of the evening. Creighton has a quick wit, an ability to realise and embody a character and a great sense of comic timing. He didn’t stop working all night to keep the play and the other actors on track. When the play has run in a bit Samuel will, I’m sure, get more to play with off from the other characters who, on the opening night, were often late with their responses, making the flow and energy of the work a little unpredictable.
Overall Sylvia Bolingbroke’s direction was clear and kept the play moving forward. I was a little confused however by the choice to mix Guy Fawkes Night (November 5th) with Halloween (October 31st). A small but pertinent point, was this Miss Townsend’s choice? The major demographic of Tea Tree Players will have a fond remembrance of November 5th and in terms of the history lessons this show provides I would trust the audience to follow the plot and look up anything they didn’t understand.
This play is a joyful piece of Sue Townsend writing, a history lesson of the early eighties, both socially and politically, and it’s politically incorrect, is a very funny insight into eighties male bad behaviour, and damn funny to boot.
Congratulations Tea Tree Players on yet another fun night in the theatre.
Reviewed by Adrian Barnes
Venue: Tea Tree Players Theatre Gate One,
Tilley Recreational Park
Corner of Yatala Vale and Hancock Roads, Surrey Downs 5126
Season: Wednesday 3rd to Saturday 6th April at 8.00pm
Tuesday 9th to Saturday 13th April at 8.00pm
Matinee each Saturday at 2.30pm
Duration: 2hours 15 minutes (including Interval)
Tickets: $17 full – $15 conc
Bookings: box office on (08) 8289 5266. Tuesday and Thursday between 10.00am to 1.00pm.