Talking dead steal show spotlight
– four short plays by Peter Barnes Directed by Maxine Dale and Gael Haining Ede Manawatu Theatre Society Globe Theatre April 21 – 25 Reviewed by Joan Ford
‘‘Corpsing’’ – to come out of character on stage, lose your way.
English playwright Peter Barnes plucks humour from unlikely situations, be it tragedy, the absurd, the bizarre.
These four plays offered curious situations and extracted smiles and giggles from an audience when they least expected to laugh.
First up was Humour Helps. A woman preparing for suicide is not normally a laughing matter!
There’s obvious commitment – she just lacks the skill-set to succeed. Pills spill, a knife is painful but not effective. A gun. She misfires into the ceiling, which opens up a conversation with the unemployed history teacher living above. His take on life will put her in a whole new spin.
Next was Acting Exercise – a clever dance of words, awash with techniques an actor might draw on to present his character.
Play number three, Waiting for a Bus, introduced two new performers to the stage – Russell Harris and Harry Martin.
One plays a director and another the actor rehearsing a play. With Gael Haining Ede, they work hard to sustain a steady pace of confusion, frequent script checks, on stage prompts, reverting to previous lines and jumping lines to find their elusive characters. Always keep your best laugh for last! Last Things performed by Gael and Richard Mays, did a remarkable and incredibly funny job presenting the Drummonds. Married, a life-long career together on the boards, they ‘awaken’ to discover they have been gassed. As the talking dead, upright and centre, they reflect on the highs and the lows of their career, before they walk into the light.