Supermarket comedy caper checks out
The Supermarket Sisterhood by Devon Williamson Directed for Manawatu Theatre Inc by Maxine Dale, Globe Theatre, April 28 - May 13
This delightfully quirky Kiwi comedy is packed with potential.
Three ‘‘checkout chicks’’ at Discount Co, an under-populated supermarket, find themselves in the pursuit of life and love while confronting the coming employment robot-apocalypse.
Under the eye of an unseen bean-counter boss, the three banter, bicker and occasionally serve customers.
Barbara, played by Jude Weavers, is an older, single, military-movie-loving gal. On the job for 35 years, she is also the store’s resident luddite, and flatly refuses to use the check-out scanner.
Courtney Jelley’s Michelle is a liberated, Shakespeare-quoting tertiary drop-out, with self-image issues.
Maggie Malone plays Aisha – a high-achieving, IT degree-holding woman, who happens to be an immigrant.
Michelle’s new boyfriend is also an immigrant. Roberto (Giovanni Oliver Duran) from the butchery department is Mexican.
Discount Co’s return customers include Danny Goodman as a dodgy nerd, Paul Lyons as the store’s former owner, and a couple of well-heeled but wacko women who Michelle allows to mess with her head.
This is a taste of the improbabilities ahead.
There are a number of amusing encounters and conversations, and as things become more far-fetched, the cast maintain their strong and distinctive character presentations.
Malone, in particular, with her relaxed, expressive eye-rolling style, has a great presence, and there are good showings from Goodman and Lyons in their respective roles.
What lets this production down is the cuing, or lack of it, during the verbal exchanges. It suggests some cast members are not all that confident with their lines, and the lack of snappy dialogue affected the pace of the piece.
In other places, there is not enough vocal projection and also some lapses in diction.
So while everything is not quite in the bag, hopefully these are things that will improve as the season progresses, while Manawatu Theatre is to be commended for its innovative approach to the production.
This includes the appearance of a different guest shopper every night (Cr Rachel Bowen on opening night, with MP Iain Lees –Galloway, mayor Grant Smith, All Saints Church and members of the Brain Injury Trust to come), the way it introduces new performers to the stage, and a novel show programme design.
For a night of unconventional comedy, The Supermarket Sisterhood could be worth a ‘‘check out’’.
Courtney Jelley as Michelle, Maggie Malone as Aisha and Judith Weavers as Barbara in ‘‘The Supermarket Sisterhood’’.