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’’.

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