Presented by Tea Tree Players
Reviewed 25 August 2021
Roleplay is the third play in Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy Damsels In Distress: the first being Gameplan (interestingly staged here earlier this year by St Jude Players), with the second being Flatspin. All three are stand alone plays not requiring knowledge of the others. When first presented in England they were connected by all having the same set and the same seven actors (but playing different characters).
The story of Roleplay revolves around a young couple about to have a dinner party for their parents to announce their engagement. But the lap dancer from upstairs has a different plan by ‘balcony crashing’ the event.
This is one of Ayckbourn’s funniest plays and Tea Tree Players, under the direction of Robert Andrews, does it proud on a set that could hold its own with any living-room area presented on The Block (without the aid of a schedule! Too soon?).
Thanks to Ayckbourn’s masterful writing, Andrews’ astute direction and some pretty good character work from all of the cast, we know exactly who and what everyone is within a second of meeting each individual – all delightfully Ayckbourn dysfunctional (except perhaps one whom you wouldn’t expect).
Nick Endenburg as the hapless and slightly frustrated (the men in the audience will identify) Justin handles his role well, evoking just the right amount of sympathy from the audience by being very natural in his acting style – and the expression wrung from his eyebrows is a joy to watch on its own. Tim Cousins is superb as the quintessential thug Micky. His overall fine performance is topped by his fantastic ‘eye staring’ acting. As the typical North Country father who only wants the best for his little girl, John Hudson is perfect, looking and sounding as if he has just stepped out of Coronation Street.
Tea Tree Players newcomer Gigi Jeffers almost steals the show as motherly, indecisive and very Northern Dee. The whine in her voice and the laugh that would frighten a hyena are worth braving the cold and COVID alone. Another actress worth her salt (and not just on the rim of her glass) is Tea tree Players’ President and regular, Theresa Dolman. Her dipsomaniac, married many times, purple haired Arabella is sensational and very funny.
As stressed-out Julie-Ann, Nicole Walker does well but needs to temper her screechiness; even in hysteria there is light and shade. Kaila Barton gives us a lap dancer who, though rough around the edges, has heart. She just needs to slow down some of her bigger speeches – especially her Act Two monologue; give us and the characters time to let the information being given in each sentence sink in.
Roleplay is yet another fine Tea Tree Players’ production and a very welcome laugh in these uncertain times.
A special mention must be made to the Tea Tree Players’ Committee who have handled the COVID restrictions brilliantly. Rest assured that as an audience member you will feel incredibly safe in their hands. Most impressive!
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Tea Tree Players Theatre, (Gate One, Tilley Recreational Park), Corner of Yatala Vale and Hancock Roads, Surrey Downs
Season: 25 Aug – 4 Sept 2021
Tickets: $15 – $17
Box Office messaging service : 8289 5266
Box Office (between 10 and 1 Tues and Thurs) : 8289 5266 or visit us in person during these times at the Tea Tree Players Theatre (address above)