‘Famous Family Felonies’ is a trio of extremely good short plays that is being presented by the Stirling Players at their Innaloo Theatre. These plays, which have a total running time of 150-minutes, can be seen at 8.00 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings until the 19th of February. There is one Sunday matinée on the 13th of February at 2.00 pm.
Please note: You will be asked for your vaccination history and proof of ID. I know all the Stirling Theatre team personally and I was still – quite rightly – required to show my credentials. All community theatres are having to ask for these details, please have the proof available or expect to be banned from entry.
The scene: The time is the present. The basic set is used for all three plays. The room has matador red walls with white woodwork. On the rear wall are French doors leading to a garden or a balcony.
The set: A well-finished set, solidly built and beautifully decorated. Minimal props.
Lighting design and operator: John Woolrych had an intricate lighting plan for each play, which he controlled perfectly.
Unfortunately, the back projection quality deteriorated then the picture disappeared. The projector’s LED started strobing. Any suggestions on how to stop this would be welcomed by most lighting designers for the future.
Sound design: Joe Tweakle played some great music from the 1960, including ‘Moon River’. His cues for ‘phones ringing and being answered were precise. Joe had the volume of ambient sound from other rooms closely linked to the room door opening and closing. Seems a natural thing to control, but often the volume and tone remain unchanged.
Stage manager: Jane Sherwood assisted by Megan James had massive furniture moves. In the first interval the large settees were changed, in the second break a large settee swopped with a double bed, mattress and a large selection of coats.
• A Dame Remembers, written and directed by WA theatrical personality, Bob Charteris.
A beautifully observed comedy, based on so many typical aging actors, who cannot admit they are no longer sought-after even by old fans.
Scene: A luxurious country house in Amersham, near Oxford in the UK. The walls are red, but with black and white stripes – created with material – between the dado rail and the skirting. Most effective. A pink chaise long is centre stage with an adjacent drinks and phone table. The beautiful ‘phone was a 1920 antique rotary with a cradle.
Forty or fifty years ago, Dame Cecilia (Jenny Wrenn) was known worldwide for her fine acting and racy lifestyle. Now, despite her flamboyant gait, and immaculate sartorial clothing, she is forgotten. Dame Cecilia asks her almost redundant theatrical agent, dedicated Eleanor (Jenni Lilley) to call around. The Dame is wishing to make a comeback.
With some excitement Cecilia summons her money grabbing niece, Ashley (Claire Yates), a business promoter to help in her launch.
An old acting friend and suave ex-lover, Henri (Peter Neaves) is let into the secrets that could be published. Cecilia’s lifelong friend, Harry (Tom Rees) looks after the catering and other necessities.
The play was first performed a year ago by Melville Theatre and has since been declared one of the best one-act plays of the past two years. One performer was awarded best supporting actor for ‘a fabulous, attention-grabbing portrayal’.
Writer and director Bob has selected a first-class cast, ranging from Jenny and her overtly arrogant Dame, to Tom with his delightful cameos. I enjoyed this play a year ago, but since then Bob has fine-tuned the script and modified the end, it is now a top-class production. I can recommend this play to other Community Theatres looking for a classy, good laugh.
• Pulling Weeds, written by WA playwright, Yvette Wall and directed by highly experienced, director and actor, Dale James. A very moving piece about family life.
Scene: A typical council house. Striped material from first play removed from the walls, and the room had well-worn furniture installed to create a middleclass home.
Loving and caring Carla (Riane Lake) returns home from working in London to visit her sick father, Joe (Michael Balmer) in his last few weeks of his life. Her highly-strung mother, Wendy (Claire Westheafer) dotes on her daughters, admirable Carla, and her lazy, naïve younger sister, Kel (Cally Zanik).
Joe decides that he has put up with his family rubbish long enough and speaks out.
Superbly written dialogue by one of Perth’s leading playwrights, Yvette Wall. Recently Yvette gave us one of the best traditional pantomimes in years (Irish Club) and now she has given us a heartrending play. Thanks also go to fine direction, as despite the cast having four very different personalities, the actors still had tremendous family chemistry which was delivered with restraint. In the wrong hands this play could have been an ‘in the face’ tragedy, evoking little audience sympathy, instead, here we have the anguish creeping in, leaving the audience unaware of what was happening until the final scene when we found ourselves very emotionally charged. Great piece of theatre.
• Fluff, is a comical farce written by John Scholes, a UK actor who was in ‘Homicide’ and ‘Van Der Valk’ but gave up acting and became a playwright. The play was directed by Jane Sherwood who managed to squeeze every gram of comedy from the predictable script.
The scene: Night-time in a substantial English mansion. The action takes place in an upstairs bedroom whilst a wild party goes on downstairs.
Set: A double bed, with a white iron bedstead frame is central stage. There are doors on each side of the stage; one leads to the stairs, the other to a walk-in wardrobe.
As a wild party for the area’s richest locals takes place downstairs, a housebreaker Joe (Peter Neaves) is continuing the family tradition. Joe is checking out the mink coats lying on the bed upstairs. He is about to throw one coat from the balcony to his sister Sally (Lara Brunini) below, when she comes into the bedroom to see why there is a delay. Joe climbs down from the balcony, to bring their van to the haul.
A rich but extremely lecherous guest, Nigel (Paul Williams) enters the room and tries his chat up lines on Sally. How long will it be before Nigel’s wife, Alice (Kate Elder) comes looking for him?
The costumes for each play were supervised by Fran Gordon, with the regalia confirming the characters nicely.
A collection of short plays immediately gives the audience the thought – first time untested plays, by first time directors and with most of the cast in their first major part. Here we have a wonderful surprise, the quality of all three plays in every department was top class.
A MOST enjoyable evening at the theatre.