Underneath Ms Archer - Review

Underneath Ms Archer - Review


Posted 2023-06-25 by Fiona Andersonfollow

Thu 22 Jun 2023 - Sun 16 Jul 2023

A sparkling new piece of 'dramedy' theatre has opened in Prahran to rapturous and prolonged applause from the audience. Talented duo, Silver Logie nominated Louise Siversen (House Husbands, Prisoner) and multi-awarded Peter Houghton (The Pitch, Shakespeare in Love, Killing Time) co-wrote and perform in Underneath Ms Archer, a quirky and contemporary play, in which a flight attendant has a surprising encounter with a mediaeval knight.

The play is performed in the setting of a downstairs London flat. It opens with Kelly Archer (Louise Siversen), flight attendant, entering from upstairs, still attired in her uniform. It's quickly apparent she's had a problematic day at work. Suffice to say there's been an incident with a difficult passenger, and social media is taking the passenger's side. Kelly is on the phone trying to secure a flight out of London... on any airline except the one she works for.

Enter William Marshall (Peter Houghton), a larger than life character from the Middle Ages, dressed in chain mail. His entry is unusual - to say more would spoil the surprise - and deservedly received a round of applause.

And so we have a stand-off of sorts between stressed out Kelly and (initially) non-English speaking William. Naturally, she is at first alarmed by the intrusion from this unknown man, and yet, she feels surprisingly unconcerned. Kelly later understands - after much frustration - why William is there. Finally, each sets off on their own 'quest'.

There is so much to enjoy about Underneath Ms Archer. The production was enhanced by the delightful empathy and connection between Louise Siversen and Peter Houghton. Both were compelling to watch, and convincing in their roles.

The storyline is cleverly conceived, highlighting at one level, the contrast, and at another the parallels, between the angst of modern day social media trolling and the historic compulsion to build a societal foundation in the face of barriers. There are pronounced transitions between almost farcical comedy and dramatic scenes; a very pleasing balance of light and shade that kept me engaged. The comedy is quirky and clever, and had me chuckling throughout.

The use of audiovisual effects is not, overall, extensive, but they have been very cleverly integrated to maximise their impact, and added greatly to the storytelling.

The costumes and sets are clever and beautifully designed.

I feel this is a production that could readily transfer to theatres in other cities, locally and perhaps internationally, with some adaptions. For example, the football references could be modified to suit the local audience.

I'm always excited to see new theatre, more so when it is of this calibre, and am happy to strongly recommend Underneath Ms Archer.

Underneath Ms Archer plays at Irene Mitchell Studio, St Martins Theatre, 44 St Martins Lane, South Yarra until 16 July (no shows on 25 - 26 June, 3 and 10 July). Session times vary, so please check the website for details.

Tickets are $30 - $50. Click here to buy your tickets online.

The running time is approximately 85 minutes (no interval).

I don't believe I've seen an 'official' rating for the play, but I'd suggest PG 15 plus is appropriate, due to strong language, themes around social media, and smoke haze effects.

All images in this article were supplied. Photographer: Darren Gill.

#theatre -reviews
!date 22/06/2023 -- 16/07/2023
221247 - 2023-06-30 10:38:53


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