a fairy tale of sorts

‘A Fairy Tale of Sorts’ is the latest ‘M-rated’ madcap offering for big kids, from Perth playwright John Grimshaw, who was named best new writer at the 2009 and 2010 Dramafests. Over the last two decades, Johnny Grim staged more than a dozen productions with his own company ‘A Lad in Sane’. This prolific writer has several plays listed with South Australia’s Moore Books and Lazy Bee Scripts in England.

This 120-minute wacky comedy, which is a collection of well-known fairy tales that have been described as Disney meets Monty Python, can be seen at the Limelight Theatre on Civic Drive, Wanneroo. The curtains go up at 8.00 pm on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings until 7th July, there is one matinée at 2.00 pm on Sunday 1st July.

Scene: 1300 AD in an English village. Scenic artist was Carol Keppler.

Set: on each side of the proscenium arch is a castle tower. The towers were built by Dave Browning, The Tuesday Task Force, Wally Fry, Malcolm Hiscock and Patrick McLanaghan.

Other than a few props including garden benches and a Royal Throne, the setting was created by well-chosen photos projected onto the stage backcloth.

The scene changes were slowly carried out with an open curtain; with one stagehand having to move everything. Just get the cast members to pick up a piece of furniture as they leave the dimmed stage.

The creative lighting design and operation was by reliable Wally Fry. The sound effects were crisp and clear, thanks to sound designer Daniel Toomath and operator Justin Camilleri.

     The local peasants are gathered on the village green, waiting for a visit from the Story Teller (Patrick McLanaghan). Oakley (Adam Lebransky) sits on the grass chewing his toenails, while Willard (Blake Hughes) and Maxwell (Doryan Kurtovic) talk about the girls’ physical attributes. The Story Teller’s stories do not appeal to the youngster and so he asks for suggestion of the themes they enjoy.
       King Percival (Regan Agostini) wants another child and heir from Queen Boadicea (Tori Brown), but the uncaring midwife (Vee McGuire) only likes boy babies. However, the King’s right-hand man, Brown Nose (Jane Triffit) has a suggestion for the perfect baby.
       When the young and flighty Prince Ryland (Blake Hughes) falls for Kylie (Alex White) they are guarded by the Men-at-arms (Tim Riessen, Chris Kennedy).
       There are visits from various fairy tale characters such as Snow White (Tania Morrow).
       Will the tyrannical king survive? Will everyone still live happily ever after?

Limelight’s gifted wardrobe lady, Shelley McGinn, has come up with another array of perfect costumes.

Now the sad news. Never direct if you are the writer, especially if you are a nice person. When selecting a cast it is always good to see new talent getting a break, but be aware that each new actor needs personal training and mentoring. Unfortunately Johnny Grim’s generosity has let him down again. Never give a part to a friend as a favour or to some untalented person just because you would like to see them get on in the theatre world.

One poor cast member, especially in a rip roaring comedy – and this script was very funny, a bit unsubtly crude, but funny – and the whole cast can be dragged down. The actors MUST know their lines (this show was under rehearsed), have good comedy delivery, learn not talk to the rear wall, have powerful projection with a good speaking pace, and if the character is speaking with an accent then the performer should speak even slower. A few of the actors were barely at talking volume and their mumblings hard to hear past the second row.

There were even a few pauses as the actors decided who had the next line.

This was opening night and of course there were the usual nerves, but a lot of work was still required.

The good news is, that had the script been delivered properly, it was very funny. There were some excellent performers, especially Regan Astini whose presence lifted the scenes. The actresses performed strongly, with good diction, enthusiasm and good stage skills.

The audience loved the references to well-known songs and seemed to quite enjoy the production. Next time, perhaps, the playwright should choose an actor whom he admires to direct the play. Sorry Johnny, disappointing.