Talk­ing dead steal show spot­light

The Tribune (NZ) - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

– 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.

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