Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Theatre - Tanya MacNaughton

TRY­ING to get a laugh out of his fel­low per­form­ers on stage, as well as the au­di­ence, is all in a day’s work for ac­tor, di­rec­tor and play­wright Damon Lock­wood.

“When you have a good cast, it’s quite fun to try to get the gig­gles out of each other if you push them hard enough,” Lock­wood said.

“And if you’re hav­ing that kind of en­joy­ment on stage, I think the au­di­ence recog­nises that’s some­thing as well.”

Lock­wood is cer­tainly be­ing tested with keep­ing a straight face dur­ing re­hearsals for Black Swan State The­atre Company’s pro­duc­tion Laugh­ter on the 23rd Floor, act­ing op­po­site Peter Row­sthorn in the role of Max Prince, the star of a fic­tional weekly com­edy va­ri­ety show filmed in 1950s New York on the 23rd floor of Rock­e­feller Plaza.

“When Pete starts to chuck out some of his phys­i­cal­ity on top of de­liv­er­ing his lines, that’s the stuff that’s very funny to watch,” he said. “It’s the phys­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion he does that is quite amaz­ing.”

Di­rected by Kate Cherry, the Neil Si­mon play pro­vides a clas­sic in­sight into the birth of tele­vised Amer­i­can com­edy in­spired by the play­wright’s time in the writ­ers’ room on Sid Cae­sar’s Your Show of Shows, where he worked along­side names such as Mel Brooks and Woody Allen.

“The peo­ple that it’s based on con- trib­uted so much to fu­ture co­me­di­ans and the his­tory of Amer­i­can and in­ter­na­tional com­edy,” Lock­wood said.

“My character Ira Stone is based on Mel Brooks. Ira is a hypochon­driac and thinks he’s got ev­ery ill­ness un­der the sun all the time; can­cer, a bro­ken spine, brain tu­mour or what­ever it may be. He’s deal­ing with a lot of is­sues but with that tone also comes a slight hint of comic ge­nius.

“Ob­vi­ously I can’t be Mel Brooks and I don’t look any­thing like him, although give me 20 years and un­for­tu­nately I ex­pect I might.”

Pic­ture: Mar­cus Whisson

On stage jok­ers: Co­me­di­ans Damon Lock­wood, Peter Row­sthorn and Stu­art Halusz.

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