Confetti from Graceland

‘Confetti From Graceland’ is the latest comedy / drama from the pen of local multi-award playwright, Noel O’Neill. Noel’s impressive CV and prolific talents are known to most of Perth’s theatregoers.

This play is being produced by the Harbour Theatre Inc. and Maverick Theatre under the watchful eye of production manager, Jarred Buttery. You can catch it at the Camelot Indoor Theatre (Mosman Park Memorial Hall), 16 Lochee Street in Mosman Park. The season’s performances are each Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings until 28th August. There are Sunday matinées at 2,00 pm on the 22nd and 29th August.

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The Scene:          8th January until mid-August 1977. A middle-class house in Brooklyn, New York.     

The Set: The living room has pale pink walls. A door on the audience left leads to the front door. A central archway in the rear wall leads to the bedrooms and kitchen. A massive oak table with two pedestal legs is central stage, there are matching chairs. The décor is (deliberately naff) with numerous pictures and treasures all relating to Elvis.

The construction and décor:         Solidly built, looks lived in. Well done Brian Mahoney, Phil Redding, Bruce Fredrickson, Matt Cuccovia, Grace Hitchin, Julie Mackay, and Jarrod Buttery.

Lighting design:                Quality as usual from Rob Tagliaferri.

Lighting operator:            Smooth work from Callum Hunter.

Sound design and operator:         Vanessa Gudgeon gives us a great selection from the King.

Programme:        Neatly laid out and informative – by Sue Hasey

It is Elvis Presley’s birthday and the Italian Nutz family is celebrating. The Christmas decorations are down and Elvis’ pictures are up everywhere. The bigoted head of the house (well he thinks he is) is decorator, Vincenzo Nutz (Noel O’Neill) who has a lifelong dream of owning his very own ice cream parlour. In true male Italian style, he screams for his beautiful wife, Rose (Narelle Belle) to pour him a cup of coffee from the pot sitting in front of him. She responds with vigour.

His smart accountant, Tony (Kim Taylor) calls to explain the costings of an ice-cream parlour, as Rose goes berserk at the suggestion. Just as Tony sees his business coming to life, his daughter Linda (Indiana Powell – delightful) announces that her ‘bloody kraut’ boyfriend, Phillip (Caleb Gray) will be coming around to make a request. Then Linda’s best friend, Angela (Meagan Harper) calls in distress.

As insanity rules amongst the family, the Grandparents, who live downstairs call in. Senile Pop (Rex Gray) has a health problem and Ma (Sharon Menzies) still seems to be the matriarch of the whole family.

How will Elvis’s birthday work out?

Noel seems to come up with a great selection of storylines and innovative threads. The scripts are always true to life and the characterisation well-developed. This play has a fine cast speaking with a blend of Italian and American, which, although soft and well enunciated, took a few minutes to tune into.

Narelle as the poor wife was understandably manic, but every word could be heard and grasped even at the height of the fracas. The cast’s chemistry was excellent with great rapport. Meagan and Caleb are relatively newcomers but captured their parts perfectly. The grandparents were a delight.

I really enjoyed this, but like almost every play that I have seen where the scriptwriter is also the director – and in this case even an actor – I anticipated and saw many missed chances for the comedy threads to be expanded. Noel is an award winning director, but writers tend to be narrowly focused on the dialogue and characters, whereas directors a more lateral thinking – can one person do three tasks in one show? Bouncing ideas off someone like Jarrod Buttery or having him as assistant director might help.

A slightly slow start but the humour develops well and then the drama takes over. Well written and very well acted.