I'm a writer with a love of young adult novels, musical theatre and vegetarian food.
Farce about a married couple hiding their affairs
With disastrous global events disturbing our way of life, flee to the theatre to see a slice of exaggerated life featuring improbable situations and crude characterisation. Tea Tree Players Theatre presents Happy Birthday, a comedy by Marc Camoletti and adapted by Beverly Cross.
Adrian Heness (L) and Kieran Drost (R) as Bernard and Robert in Happy Birthday
Chanelle Le Roux and Adrean Heness as wife Jacqueline and husband Bernard, respectively, are desperate to keep up the pretence of a faithful middle-class marriage rather than appear in love or even loyal to each other. Kieran Drost, as their reluctant friend Robert, is roped into Bernard's infidelity lies on top of his own affair with Jacqueline.
Enter Selena Carr as Brigit Kerwood, the temporary maid quickly mistaken for Bernard's mistress by Robert. Drost's performance as uptight Robert is in stark contrast to Carr's dynamic Brigit. Her rejection of middle-class etiquette, through her appearance, brashness, and domestic skills, is a running gag throughout the play. Brigit claims control of the narrative by making an honest pay out of lying about her identity. Carr hits every punchline and her character becomes the underdog hero of the story.
Bridgit the maid unwittingly switches places with her namesake: the mistress, performed by Alicia Foster. Foster leans into her flirtatious mistress character with fervour - her exaggerated facial expressions communicate her affections and revulsions. While Heness convincingly portrays the unlikeable cheating husband, Le Roux's Jacqueline turns from sympathetic ignored housewife to snobby, malicious adulterer.
The small cast of five are led by director Samuel Creighton. Background moments in scenes, like Jacqueline sneaking extra sips of alcohol to get through the dinner party, boosts the humorous chaos of the plot. Creighton's set, dressed in a country colour scheme, 80s wallpaper and mid-century furniture, adds another dimension to the farce as actors travel through different rooms, confusing the characters and audience. While Carr's costume and makeup initially seem over-the-top, it becomes the least exaggerated part of her comedic role. The ensemble's fun character costumes visually express their personalities and setting.
In this fast and fun play, the ensemble have great chemistry and convincing British accents, at least for this non-discerning reviewer. The production's pacing and humour peaks in the second act as its high energy carries it through the unravelling secrets and tension. Happy Birthday is an amusing, superficial play brought to life by a community production with clever stage design, fun physical comedy and a charming cast.
The cast of Happy Birthday (L-R) Chanelle Le Roux, Kieran Drost, Adrian Heness, Selena Carr & Alicia Foster
Tea Tree Players Theatre's production of Happy Birthday was intended to mark the 100th birthday of their building, but the production was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Front of House volunteers have trained and implemented safety measures to ensure the health of all patrons during this season. Face masks may be required depending on venue capacity.
Happy Birthday is running from 8pm Wednesday to Saturday, and 2.30pm matinee Saturdays, until April 24th. Tickets are $15-17. Book here.