Having spent the last few years living abroad I now wish to rediscover my home city of Sydney to keep that 'travelling feeling' and share my findings with those that might want a bit of inspiration.
Starlets, gangsters, alcoholics come together through love
The recently opened Hayes Theatre has another hit on their hands. Hot on the heels of the highly successful run of 'Sweet Charity' comes 'The Drowsy Chaperone'. If it's good enough for Geoffrey Rush (starring in a film adaptation) then the stage version is more than good enough for Aussie theatre goers. More to the point, the show is a smorgasbord of theatrical techniques that keeps the audience engaged and entertained throughout the 105 minutes of play.
The Drowsy Chaperone' is constructed as a story within a story. The story is set in a shabby New York apartment, and is told through the eyes of a narrator; an over zealous fan of a 1920's record The story comes to life in his living room, with the actors embodying the scenes and songs of his favourite musical score.
Whilst the action all takes place within an unchanging set, the scenes and theatrical techniques are diverse and allow the set to fade away for the audience and one feels that they are in fact, joining the narrator for his imaginative journey. The tone is light-hearted indulgence, thematic exploration is kept light, the pace is swift and action swift and direct intermingling song, dance and dialogue.
What is particularly lovely about this production is that the show highlights the skills and attributes of all company members. There is no single shining star. No one central plot-line. Multiple story-lines intertwine from the play-within-a-play, whilst the narrator pulls the action into the present with another set of considerations & intrigues. Everyone is given their chance to shine, and also their time offstage to gear up for the next scene and the production is all the better for it as there is something for everyone to enjoy!
Vaudevillian comedy was particularly delightful to watch as traditional 20's entertainment was incorporated into the show. The two 'baker gangsters' execution was a treat and they were well received by the audience. Impeccable comedic timing, self-restraint and movement precision were evident and just a joy to witness. Hats off to Richard Woodhouse and Brett O'Neill.
Hilary Cole is stunning as 20's starlet Janet. She is a pleasure to watch and communicates both the desire for the spotlight and a young girl's vulnerability without appearing cliché. Her rendition of 'Show Off' is a true crowd pleaser. Similarly, yet for different reasons, Tom Sharah is brilliant as Aldopho. Whilst the baseless 'wanna-be ladies man' is 100% overplayed, it is 100% appropriate for the production and hilarious to watch.
Anyone in the audience can relate to at least part of the storyline. Whether it be the lecherous Adolpho squealing 'help me!' trapped carrying on his seduction of the Chaperone, Janet's need to know her bridegroom's true feelings for her, or even Feldzig's predicament under the gangsters thumb, there is a little something that will twinge in your heart. We don't come to the theatre to get answers, we come to the theatre to explore and be entertained on the journey.
Congratulations Hayes Theatre on another brilliant production. Whilst new to the theatre scene, your mark is growing stronger by the day. A stellar reputation of producing only the most innovative and engaging productions is sure to grow, so just enjoy the ride.