Presented by Tea Tree Players
Reviewed 17 August 2016
Tea Tree Player’s latest comic offering of Richard Everett’s Happy Event follows Jane Harbottle and her ill-fated dinner party where she intends to tell her husband that she is pregnant. A number of unexpected visitors, from a young free-spirited neighbour to a Greek business partner all serve to make this much more difficult than it should be. This comedy of errors with slapstick comedy and witty wordplay requires thorough rehearsal and a deft directorial hand but, although being enjoyable, this production does come out ever-so-slightly undercooked.
In the lead role of Jane, Cassandra Hart does well, delivering a solid performance – especially considering this is her first time on an amateur stage. It was very clear that opening night nerves affected her with some fumbled lines in the first act but she fell into her groove and this is bound to get smoother throughout the run. Samuel Creighton also seemed affected by opening night jitters but otherwise performed up to his normal high standard. Potentially he was put off by some small mistakes from the audio department and obviously missed lines in the first scene. Again, these issues could easily be smoothed out over the run.
The supporting cast do very well in each of their roles, making the most out of the comedy in their parts. Kyla Booth and Charlotte Hale play polar opposite characters but both nail the comic aspects – Booth in particular delivering a very naturalistic performance.
Similarly, Stephen Mulady and Timothy Cousins do well in their roles, particularly in the more over-the-top portions of their characters. Mulady acts perfectly vague after having some suspicious cigarettes and Cousins does a wonderful plate dance. Cousins handles the Greek accent well – avoiding the tendency to overdo it – but it does occasionally slip back into Australian.
Mike Phillips’ lighting design is simple but effective as is his sound design. Small issues were present in the sound execution but luckily these were few and far between.
The largest issue with this production comes primarily from Jo Allenby’s direction. For the most part the show moves along wonderfully and makes the most of Damon Hill’s fantastic set design. It’s when the show gets into physical comedy territory where things start to go awry. The plate throwing sequence was a complete mess and none of the actors seemed entirely sure what was supposed to be happening – unfortunately this resulted in a plate being smashed onstage (which was well covered by Creighton). These portions of the play come across as under-rehearsed, which is a shame as it mars the overall experience.
This production of Happy Event is by no means unenjoyable with laughs aplenty and an enjoyable cast. On opening night the performance came across as not entirely ready but the audience response is bound to smooth out the bumps and solidify the strong work of the cast.
Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio
Venue: Tea Tree Players Theatre
Season: 17th August – 27th August
Duration: 2 hour 30 minutes
Tickets: $13 – $15
Bookings: by phone 8289 5266, at the Theatre 10am to 1pm every Tuesday and Thursday or online at www.teatreeplayers.com