ACTORS CRACK UP ON THE 23RD FLOOR
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.”
On stage jokers: Comedians Damon Lockwood, Peter Rowsthorn and Stuart Halusz.