Meet My Husbands is a play of misunderstandings and entanglements of Shakespearean proportion, albeit without the grandiose dialogue to match. Elaine Scott (Serena Britz), an advertising executive, is set on nabbing the ‘sausage’ contract with Anthony and Janis Mulgrew (Nick Hargreaves and Merici Thompson), who insist on wholesome family values as a basis for the campaign. Strangely, this means that Elaine must possess a husband, and she proceeds to hire one; what follows is a hilarious series of sausage jokes, husband swapping and balcony antics.
The entire action of Meet My Husbands occurs in a hotel room, which allowed an incredible amount of detail to be put into the set design (Damon Hill). Convincing as a real room – although perhaps a little too nice for the hotels I can usually afford – it was complete with slamming doors, a bar, artwork on the walls and a beautifully painted balcony view. The lighting, designed by Robert Andrews, was simple but also very clever; bright and harsh as the Florida sun when the curtains were open, and dimmed to lamplight when they were closed.
The standout performance was certainly Brendan Cooney, who played Elaine’s hired husband and love interest Tim Billings. Cooney handled the overabundance of suggestive sausage jokes with panache; I can’t imagine many people pulling off sausage twirling, eye brow bobbing seduction without coming across as lecherous instead of attractive. Equally Merici Thompson, portraying the trophy wife of sausage tycoon Mulgrew, achieved the perfect balance of annoying but not unbearable, while also being strangely endearing at the same time.
The main fault of the play was not with the cast or production team, but with the playwright, Fred Carmichael. His premise, that a woman must possess a husband to be a reliable employee, is fundamentally an offensive one that is weakly disguised with humour. Apparently, a woman selling family values without a husband is like a dentist having false teeth. Fortunately, the cast and production crew were talented enough to make the base subject of little importance.
I confess that when I walked into the tiny heritage theatre, tucked into the corner of a sporting ground, I expected a painfully amateur production, especially considering the incredibly reasonable ticket pricing; I was very wrong. I was frankly charmed to discover tea and biscuits were served during the intermission; the atmosphere was far more welcoming than that of a larger playhouse, and the quality of performance was certainly equal or better. For an enjoyable night out (not to mention free biscuits), I would highly recommend heading down to the Tea Tree Players Theatre.
Reviewed by Emily Francine Palmer
Venue: Tea Tree Players Theatre, cnr Yatala Valley road and Hancock road, Surrey Downs.
Season: 21-31August 2013
Duration: 2 hours including 20 minute interval
Tickets: $11.00 – $13.00
Bookings: Online at the Tea Tree Players’ website
Photo (L-R): Stacey Hendy, Brendon Cooney, Adrian Heness and Selena Britz in Meet My Husbands