Friday, 26 December 2014

Top Ten Theatre Productions in 2014 - Plays

If this year’s musicals had a large number of comedies then the plays went the exact opposite direction mining a much darker vein – incest, revenge, torture, the horrors of war, school shootings, suicide, mental illness. It was a veritable line-up of misery but never anything less than compelling theatre if somewhat confronting. The Blue Room had a very strong year as did the WAAPA third years. Dramafest was a success and community theatre continues to throw up excellent performances and a diverse range of shows. I was also impressed with the work coming out of Curtin and Murdoch Universities that were both very active in 2014.

To the Top Ten:

1. Great Expectations (WAAPA)
While the Dickens classic certainly has its dark moments this was such an entertaining production with the use of the revolving chorus a wonderful device. All you need to know about how well it was received was writ large in the grin on Andrew Lewis’ face in the lobby afterwards.

"If West Side Story is the crowning achievement of the musical theatre class in the red corner then the acting cohort in the blue corner have replied in stunning fashion with this production. To extend the boxing analogy, I had a ringside seat, front row centre, at the Geoff Gibbs Theatre. And what a view it was - a brilliant adaptation of the great novel, inventively staged and directed, with superb performances across the board."

2. Festen (WAAPA)
A gut punch of a play that was a majestic horror story that made me squirm and was utterly riveting. Contains the line of the year – “Because that’s all you were good for” – that had me gasping at the monstrosity of it all. 

"The performances are superb and all the more laudable because a more reprehensible bunch of characters you will not find – misogynists, racists, rapists – who are either emotionally brittle or utterly callous. They may not be likeable but it is a fascinating exploration of entrenched values within a family and how they infect each generation."

3. The Pillowman (Endless Theatre Company)
The introduction to Perth of this Irish flavoured production company couldn’t have been more impressive with this jet black exploration of the creative process itself.

"But most of all, surprisingly, fabulously, a play about stories, about writing and what it means to be a writer. About taking responsibility for what is written. About where stories come from, even the dark ones – especially the dark ones. About legacy. For what is a writer without their stories?"

4. Under Any Old Gum Tree (Dramafest)
A searing 50 minute monologue about the horrors of the First World War, stunningly delivered.

"Lastly, and fittingly, the final production of Dramafest was Noel O’Neill’s superb Under Any Old Gum Tree. Beautifully written and brilliantly performed by Kieran Garvey (with Rex Gray in support), this was powerful, moving, insightful, occasionally funny and a blistering exploration of the devastation the Great War caused on those who survived No Man’s Land."

5. Concussion (Ellandar Productions)
Subversively funny and self-aware, this was another jet black drama that had an excellent script that was embraced by a very talented cast.

"It’s deliciously clever, subversive and funny. Even the somewhat overwrought shouting match at the end I took to be a poke at the expectations usually contained within this type of tale. As a writer myself this was absolutely in my wheelhouse and I loved the cheekiness and audacity of the script."

6. The Standover Man (Subiaco Arts Centre)
Starting quite obliquely all the diverse strands slowly coalesce into a powerful narrative in this unusual underworld tale full of richly drawn characters.

"I couldn't have been more impressed. This is a beautifully written, performed and staged play. I am going to be a little oblique about the story because the writing is excellent and the play unfolds with great skill to reveal its secrets and mysteries. That journey really needs to be experienced first hand."

7. Closer (Fresh Bred Productions)
The pungent Marber dialogue is delivered with relish in this sexually charged production that doesn’t pull any punches.

"Take a razor sharp script, four talented and committed actors, a fresh approach from a first time director then add an original score played live and you end up with this excellent production of Patrick Marber's Closer." 

8. Punk Rock (WA Youth Theatre Company)
The young cast plunge into this dark, unsettling tale with impressive skill and energy. The sense of play in the performances left the stage in a state of total disarray, about the same as my nerves during the explosive climax.

"What unfolded at the Subiaco Arts Centre studio was a slow burn production that was shocking, uncomfortable and powerful. It elicited several visceral responses from the audience as it built to a brutal climax and then lingered in the aftermath to let us all breathe again. That the cast was predominantly made up of young teenagers was remarkable."

9. Giving Up The Ghosts (The Blue Room Theatre)
A carefully measured two-hander as two damaged souls find themselves confronting the unthinkable as they attempt to escape their ghosts.

"I said to Sarah I was intrigued how she was going to ‘stick the landing’ as it had to be handled sensitively given the undeniably dark subject matter but truthful to the characters that had been so expertly crafted and rendered. She and the actors, Georgia King and Paul Grabovac, thread that needle beautifully to bring a powerful piece of theatre to conclusion as the lights fade on these two damaged souls."

10. This Is Not A Love Song (The Blue Room Theatre)
This is an impressive writing debut by comedian Greg Fleet who lends a dry stage presence in this mature rumination about relationships and loss. I even knew pretty much all of the songs!

"I really enjoyed this show – the writing and acting is very good, the songs well delivered (at times I felt like clapping at the end of a number though This is Also Not a Musical) and the humour is genuinely funny amongst the underlying tone of regret."

Female Performer of the Year - Georgia King
A very subtle performance playing the agitated woman in Giving Up The Ghosts with a terrible purpose. I especially liked how well calibrated the physical interactions - or lack of them - were in giving insight into the character.

Male Performer of the Year - Kieran Garvey
Simply a towering performance playing a man damaged by the horrors of war in Under Any Old Gum Tree. Garvey grabs you by the throat from the very first beat and doesn't let up. Heartbreaking, devastating, superb. 

Special Mentions:

Beth Tremlett - Such an assured performance in a challenging role (Gish in Bremen Coffee) where the arc goes from battered housewife to ruthless murderer. Skillfully handled.

Luke Binetti - Only 17 years old, Binetti moves from good-natured nerd to something far more deadly in Punk Rock. "For that transformation and its consequences to be handled so convincingly is a testament to Binetti’s skill."

Jonny Hawkins - Devastating as the despicable male patriarch in Festen, Hawkins then changed gears to inhabit the lovable Joe Gargery in Great Expectations with equal skill. 

Adam Sollis - Front and centre in a thoroughly likable turn as Pip in Great Expectations but also prominent in Realism playing a surly cat and telemarketer with cerebral palsy. 

Scott McArdle - The driving force at Murdoch, deservedly winning Theatre Student of the Year, McArdle not only did lighting design, directing, acting, but notably is an excellent and prolific young writer whose three original plays and one musical I saw in 2014 were all high quality.

Again, thank you to all the actors, crew, key creatives and support staff on stage and behind the scenes who made 2014 such an excellent year for theatre in Perth. I'm sure 2015 will be equally stimulating!

Top Ten Theatre Productions in 2014 - Musicals & Cabaret

It was a big year for musicals, especially comedy musicals. From trailer parks to roller skating rinks, from Transylvania to the vastness of space, and even the Hollywood of the future to alien invasions in 1950s American suburbia, it was a wild ride. WAAPA proved yet again why they are the pre-eminent training academy for musical theatre in the country while the Koorliny Arts Centre had another strong year. There was the further emergence of a local writing and performing duo whose audacious ‘holiday special’ presages a very bright future.

To my favourites:

1. West Side Story (WAAPA)
A spectacular production at the Regal Theatre boasting the combined might of WAAPA’s second and third year musical theatre students and a host of talented students from all other departments. Throw in a wonderful set, an orchestra in fine form, and one of the best ever musicals and it was a highlight of the year.

"It’s not a feeling I get often but the buzz around WAAPA’s mid-year showcase production at the Regal Theatre has been enormous and I was hoping, expecting, pleading for magic and that’s exactly what was delivered – magic of the most potent kind. If you had told me that baton was a wand I would have believed you."

2. Children of Eden (WAAPA)
A production that took me totally by surprise but left me thoroughly impressed as WAAPA’s second year students announced their arrival in exuberant style.

"I’m happy to report that any reservations I had disappeared almost immediately in what turned out to be a spectacular production. The second years were uniformly excellent; it is a beautiful score with wonderful songs; and the venue was comfortably configured and used to maximum effect. I walked away with a real sense of the ‘wow’ factor hence my delighted surprise."

3. Hair (WAAPA)
WAAPA’s third year students kicked off their final year with a bang with this performance of the rock musical that harkened back to the era of flower power and the Vietnam War getting the tone and atmosphere spot on.

"The main players were more than ably supported by the rest of the cast who had a wonderful sense of energy and chemistry as they genuinely enjoyed the playful choreography and playground style set. Then there was the eight piece band that was in terrific form led by musical director David King."

4. Oliver! (Mandurah Performing Arts Centre) 
You know it’s been a good year when this joyous production is only fourth on the list. One of the highlights of 2014 was the massed cast including some 40 children performing Consider Yourself.

"When musical theatre gets it right, when everything is firing on all cylinders – the performances, the vocals, the orchestra, set, costume, lighting,everything – it is a sight and sound to behold."

5. Merrily We Roll Along (WAAPA)
The final production for WAAPA’s sterling third year class who lapped up Sondheim’s musical in the more intimate Roundhouse Theatre.

"After the big, elaborate musicals of the last few days over in Melbourne this show was a pleasant reminder that a stripped back production such as this in an intimate setting with talented performers and musicians can be just as entertaining and memorable. And yes, Mister Sondheim, I was tapping my feet more than once!"

6. The Jones/Woods Holiday Special (Holland St Productions)
A retrospective greatest hits package as hilarious as it was audacious that featured Gravity the Musical that lampooned and adored Alfonso Cuaron’s film in equal measure.

"This company of talented performers clearly relished working with such quality material and, again, there was real chemistry between them all. The fact that the show was put together with something like only three weeks rehearsal time is testament to their abilities. The audience response was as enthusiastic as anything I’ve seen in Perth – foot stomping intensity in fact! "

7. Young Frankenstein the Musical (Koorliny Arts Centre)
The very first production I saw this year and what a way to start. The kind of craziness that only Mel Brooks could summon brought to kooky life down at Koorliny.

"Based on the Mel Brooks’ movie of the same name, it exhibits the typical Brooks sense of humour as it parodies the horror genre. The gags can be a little hit and miss but I generally found this very funny. It is also performed and directed with great verve and there are many wonderful set pieces."

8. The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Roleystone Theatre)
Another great surprise of the year. What a raucous, hollerin' and a stompin' good time this was with a lovely sweetness under all that big hair, outrageous costumes and trashiness.

"What impressed me most is that beneath the raunchy and crass exterior that poked fun at the ‘white trailer park trash’ stereotype there was an underlying sweetness and genuine affection for these characters."

9. Point & Shoot: A New Musical (Holland St Productions)
I was fortunate enough to see the additional performance that was added to this show's run at Fringe. I can see why there was such a demand as this is clever, funny, and wildly entertaining. 

"This is an hilarious and pointed satire of Hollywood and the filmmaking business with a clever plot ("twist") and biting lyrics. The four actors play multiple roles and instruments and all are in fine voice. The transitions are seamless and this rockets along at a frenetic pace."

Another show I was lucky to catch at the tale end of its run at Fringe. Based on Cosgriff's own experiences the songs here are pointed, funny, and insightful, delivered with real panache.  

"A front row seat meant I was only 2-3 metres away from Cosgriff who proved to be a vivacious, witty, and very charismatic presence as she combined original songs with insights into her life and that of her generation, those of the already nostalgic mid-twenties."

Female Performer of the Year - Suzie Melloy
In a spectacular show that did so many things so well, Melloy stood out as Anita in West Side Story. She "gives a star making performance as the feisty Anita – she is simply superb and a real charismatic presence."

Male Performers of the Year - Tyler Jacob Jones & Robert Woods
I am usually the first person to rail against ties but you can't really talk about one without the other when it comes to musicals. Jones and Woods as creative collaborators and performers are a potent combination with a huge future.

Special Mentions:

Rebecca Hetherington - Gives a fine performance as Mary, the heart and soul of Merrily We Roll Along. "Not only is her acting impressive but vocally she shines..."

Jesse Angus - A full tilt performance in Young Frankenstein where Angus "attacks the role (of 'Fronkensteen') with impressive energy and the appropriate level of mania."

Jon Lambert - Unrecognisable as Fagan in Oliver! after his stint as the Monster in Young Frankenstein. A very charismatic performance. 

Madeleine Shaw - Steals the show as the eponymous lead in Cinderella. The petite performer has a divine singing voice and confident stage presence.

Kohan van Sambeeck - seemingly ever present as a musician in many of the WAAPA productions, van Sambeeck also found time to be Musical Director for The Last Five Years and compose his first original score for the play Closer

An excellent year with many other great performances and a couple of shows unlucky not to make the final ten. Thank you to all the casts and crews, musicians, front of house staff and all the other people who make the magic of theatre come to life. I look forward to seeing you all again in 2015!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp - GRADS (13 December 2014)

Me? At a pantomime? A Christmas one no less? There’s a first for everything! I took a seat in my usual front row spot at Hackett Hall with much trepidation. What sort of impromptu audience participation was I signalling myself out for by sitting so close to the firing line? Thankfully, director Stephen Lee calmed my nerves with a pre-show assurance that no such shenanigans would be in order. Phew! I then settled in to watch a crazy show that was totally entertaining and a really fun (carpet-less) ride.

The first thing that struck me was that the tiered seating had been moved a long way forward from their usual spot. One common note at Dramafest was how far away the action was with such a deep stage. Here we were much closer and it was a really good choice. It was also great to see so many children in the audience and there was indeed a lot of group interaction with the usual boos as the villain appeared, a sing-along, and advice to our heroes.

The story itself? You know - Aladdin, a lamp, a beautiful princess, an evil Sorcerer, a Vogue-reading Genie, some Kung Fu fighting, lots of laundry, men in drag, women as men, Chinese-style Keystone Cops, and a propensity to break into song whenever a set change was required. Oh, and some self-inflicted cream pie in the face work. Your standard pantomime hijinks. It was lapped up by the enthusiastic audience – the show, not the cream pie – and everyone was having a really good time capped off by an elderly man with a white beard in a red jump suit gate-crashing the party.

To the performances!

Grant Malcolm was channelling some Jim-Broadbent-as-Ziegler type theatrics as the evil wizard Abanazar and was suitably over-the-top. He earned the hearty boos directed his way. Abanazar’s plans for world domination were somewhat altered on meeting the princess but who can blame him?

Jarrod Buttery made for a, ahem, handsome Widow Twankay and was thoroughly engaging in the role. Buttery used a droll sense of humour to great effect with plenty of asides to the audience, the slyer of which sailed over the head of the kids but were appreciated by the adults. I should also note that his beard nicely complimented the Widow’s various dresses!

It’s the first time I have seen Melissa Kiiveri on stage but she made for a radiant Aladdin in a spunky performance that was a real crowd pleaser. There was a cheekiness to her portrayal that I very much liked but, more impressively, a genuine tenderness in the romance with the Princess. 

That Princess  - Balroubadour – was played by Grace Edwards with naivety and innocence coupled with the odd regal temper tantrum. Edwards had the line of the night whilst wailing for her beloved Aladdin when she broke the fourth wall and bemoaned, “Three years at WAAPA, for this?!” Priceless.

Kate O’Sullivan gave a funky turn as the Genie of the Lamp with attitude to burn and a thick American accent that was a treat. Indeed, between O’Sullivan’s drawl, Lis Hoffman’s thick strine as So Shi, and Kiiveri’s pronounced English accent this was somewhat of a United Nations for the ear! I was bemused by the Deus Ex Genie to resolve a plot predicament (but really, who cared?) and O’Sullivan had a chance to shine with her rendition of Pharrell’s Happy which I believe is now mandatory for all new musicals, pantomimes, and cabarets to end with these days. Let It Go, people.

Of the secondary characters, fresh-faced James Parker played the straight man role of Aladdin’s brother Wishee Washee well. He had a good-natured vibe that worked very effectively. Hoffman, as mentioned, was the most unlikely of handmaidens bringing Ocker scepticism to her role and an unexpected development that I’m possibly still traumatised over! Judd Millner and Jennifer Van Den Hoek brought added comic relief as the Chinese policemen, Ping and Pong. Jonathan Beckett and Kerri Hilton rounded out the cast as The Grand Vizier and The Empress respectively. They amusingly had their own banter going on.

The ensemble was made up of a charming mix of young children and older performers who gave interesting interpretations of pop standards such as Kung Fu Fighting, Celebration and a re-imagining of Pinball Wizard (perhaps it’s just as well Pete Townshend is deaf!). The second act even commenced with a lovely ribbon dance performance by three members of the Chung Wah Dance Group.  

The highlight amongst all the madness though was an original song in the second act written by David Harries, Sarah Courtis and Arnold Wong called Forever and a Day that was beautifully performed by Edwards and Kiiveri. Finally, it was pleasing to see the cast come back out in costume to pose for pictures with the children. A nice touch.

Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp is a colourful and funny show that is perfect entertainment for all the family in the lead up to Christmas. I not only went to a pantomime, I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Oh yes I did!!!

There are four more shows left at Hackett Hall in Floreat until 20 December.   

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Teeth 2 Tail - Curtin's Performance Studies & Hayman Theatre Company (9 December 2014)

A story is told in the early going of this play written by Steve McCall that is delivered with such frenetic energy and charm that I was so caught up in the sheer entertainment of it all that I nearly missed that it was the key thematic blueprint for everything that was about to unfold. It was unusual insomuch as it served as an introduction to the character Harry played by Kane Parker and you normally wouldn’t expect such thematic heft in an opening salvo. Very nicely written and performed, Messrs’ McCall and Parker.

That story was a tale about the goings on at a watering hole in Kruger National Park where a herd of buffalo are surprised by a pride of lions and even a crocodile while tourists look on shocked. Remarkably, even though a ‘baby’ buffalo is snatched in all the chaos by a croc, the herd regroup and fight back…

In many ways the set is its own ‘watering hole’ where a series of characters in a strictly observed hierarchy interact and clash. Two sides fronting the audience are chain link fencing topped with barb wire; another side is the wall of the theatre with a platform where characters lurk and observe atop and under; the final side having the exits that are disguised by an arch like construction. It is wonderfully enclosed and cramped with holes in the fencing allowing characters, on occasion, to literally prowl right in front of the audience. The small performance space contains a couple of school desks, a drum, and a fridge built into a section of the arch, and adds enormously to the tone of the piece. It’s tight and grimy and you’re sitting up close and personal to the action. The actors, eleven in all, manoeuvre expertly through the set.

This story has its own animals both predatory and meek, set in a high school where Eva (Eloise Carter) is fascinated by her now deceased grandfather’s war service at Kokoda and her older brother Clint’s (Ryan Hunt) current participation in the armed forces overseas. She also wants to serve her country but is bullied by fellow students Cate (Gemma Middleton) and Sophie (Zoe Street) for being studious and, well, smart. Eva’s older sister Matilda (Violette  Ayad) is pregnant to resident drug dealer and punk ‘Turk’ (Sean Guastavino) while their mother Trish (Ashleigh Morris) likes her wine and the company of, allegedly, a series of men.

Added to this combustible mix is the school teacher Ms Carlton (Amelia Tuttleby) who tries to help Eva but is largely ineffectual in the face of particularly Cate’s defiance; the tough minded and sexually adventurous Paige (Holly Dodd); the sweet newcomer Lucy (Amy Johnston) who attempts to befriend Eva; and finally the na├»ve Harry (Parker) who will become an unwitting accomplice as Eva ‘regroups and fights back’ with tragic consequences.

In many ways this reminded me of the play Punk Rock but with a totally recognisable Australian voice. Yes, things escalate out of control and Eva proves to be an increasingly fierce adversary as she stands up to those who wrong her. Eloise Carter gives a tremendous performance as she moves from passive nerd to a far more calculating and ruthless presence. I almost passed straight by her after the show not recognising who she was and Carter admitted, tellingly, that she looked far less ‘psychotic’.

There are inserts throughout the play where Eva seemingly re-enacts with the cast events from her grandfather’s time at war with the Japanese. These seemed to me though, to be signposts of a sense of, perhaps not delusion, but certainly a lack of understanding of what war truly is. A point hammered home when her brother Clint returns from overseas and tells her a story about what warfare in places in Afghanistan is really like. That he is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome is a lovely juxtaposition to his sister’s state of mind as they both deal with the ramifications of her actions.

Excellent performances abound and there is a richness to each character in both how they are drawn and presented. Guastavino is a wonderfully physical and menacing presence as Turk and his callous treatment of Eva’s sister is in many ways the catalyst for the escalation in events that spiral out of control. Parker’s Harry is thoroughly sympathetic as he is drawn into something out of his ability to comprehend. Middleton proves to be a fiery antagonist but even her Cate is ranked below Dodd’s Paige who is perhaps the “alpha female” to Turk’s alpha male. Dodd ratchets up the wattage as she confronts Eva head on over Turk. 

Johnston’s turn as Lucy adds an element of genuine warmth and sweetness and her later scenes with Carter are particularly well handled. I also really liked Morris’ performance as the almost absent mother who really has no idea of what her youngest daughter is capable of. Hunt’s involvement as the brother whose return will make everything right is telling and he gives a sober rendering of a man with competing duties to family and country. Guilt is also rife throughout and how different characters deal with this is critical.

This is a thought provoking and thematically dense play with excellent writing and wonderful performances by all the cast. Mark Storen’s direction within the deliberately cribbed space is very good as characters rotate into their scenes then return to what felt at times to be silent observers in the background, like watchful eyes around a watering hole as the animals slowly tear each other apart...

Teeth 2 Tail has three more shows on at The Blue Room, finishing on Saturday 13 December and is highly recommended.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Miranda - Garrick Theatre (7 December 2014)

Before we begin I must make a disclaimer. There will no aquatic puns of any nature, especially of the piscine variety, perpetrated in the writing of this review. I take my mermaids very seriously. There was that one time as the sun was setting on North Cottesloe beach where, if you tilted your head at just the right angle and squinted into the sunlight, I swear you could see the shimmering mirage of a mackerel with the head of Angelina Jolie. It was a formative experience.

Okay, it’s no secret to say that the invalid woman our good doctor Sir Paul Martin brings home after a fishing trip is in fact a mermaid. She’s on the damn poster for goodness sake! Yep, tail and all. This delightful creature, swaddled in a blanket to conceal her lack of ambulatory prowess, wants to see the sights of London – its museums and operas – whilst also enjoying the attention of the decidedly upright men who are ensorcelled by her.

There are only a few problems with this. First off, well, she’s a mermaid. Secondly, said men are actually bound by the mundane human concept known as a committed relationship. Yes, the good doctor’s wife Lady Clare is none too happy, and the engaged maid Betty and equally betrothed socialite Isobel aren’t exactly thrilled about their other halves’ wandering attention spans either. 

The setup is rife for a drawing room comedy of manners with a little upstairs-downstairs class structure thrown in for good measure and an outside disruption that is like nothing the rich and their servants have seen before. Set in London during the forties the action takes place in the Martin’s well-appointed living room. The comedy runs more to the one liner and pun variety where the unwitting players dance around Miranda’s true identity – yes, there truly is something “fishy” about this interloper.

But this was the major issue I had with the play – the construction of the narrative itself. The audience is well ahead of most of the characters regarding Miranda’s true nature and we’re basically waiting for them to play catch up. This means the natural expectation of seeing the tail and full extent of the mermaid persona has to be denied the viewer as it must remain hidden from the bulk of the characters. This felt contrived and slowed proceedings down for me. The effect it has on the type of humour deployed means we are laughing more at the characters for being so dim-witted - how could they not know what we know? - than, for the most part, genuinely comic entanglements.

However, there was much to like here. Natalie Aung Than, with impressive eyelashes and long blonde wig, is suitably beguiling as Miranda. She plays the ‘patient’ with a mix of wide eyed excitement at the wonders of London and a subtle knowing of the impact her charms have on the menfolk. When the blankets are finally cast aside in a lovely sequence she looks agile and sleek with the tail being an impressive piece of costuming. Rhett Clarke plays the doctor with a certain English foppishness that was kind of endearing as it precluded any sense of dubious intent. His Sir Paul was more the well-intentioned yet absent-minded professor archetype.

I was most impressed with Tayla Howard who really sparkles as Isobel, the hat store owner and willing gossip. Belinda Djurdjevic (Betty, a housemaid), Rodney Palmer (Charles, the manservant) , Christine Ellis (Nurse Cary) and Brendan Ellis (Nigel Hood) all give solid support which leaves the actual lead of the play, Mary Murphy as Lady Clare Martin. While Miranda may be the centre of attention the story is really about how Lady Clare deals with this intrusion and doubts about her husband’s fidelity before finally working out the real situation. In many ways it’s a thankless part as the character really is the foundation around which the exposition and showier roles are built upon. Murphy handles this well with a straight-forward honesty that is hard to fault.

The costuming (Lynda Stubbs) is very well done aside from the mermaid tail which is the highlight. There is a touch of class in the choices for both male and female which befits the higher strata of society the Martins and Isobel occupy. The play worked best for me when we see the ramifications of Miranda’s enchantment. At one point Charles and Nigel, having broken off their respective engagements to Betty and Isobel, arrive at the same time to propose marriage to Miranda. It is both funny and telling.

Miranda is a pleasant couple of hours with gentle humour and a charming conceit and has 4 more shows on at the Garrick Theatre in Guildford until 13 December. It was written by Peter Blackmore, Directed by Rodney Palmer and stars Belinda Djurdjevic, Tayla Howard, Mary Murphy, Rhett Clarke, Natalie Aung Than, Rodney Palmer, Christine Ellis and Brendan Ellis.