‘Love and Music’ is another captivating comedy from the pen of Brenton Foale; his script was then workshopped by Oliver Temby and Mazey O’Reilly.
On arriving in Perth two years ago after moving from Melbourne, multi-skilled Brenton decided to form the Fremantle Performing Artists’ Theatre Group with the aim of giving actors more than acting technique training. This Group teaches directing, teching in fact the whole gamut of theatrical and film skills.
This two-hour romantic comedy had its Premiere at the Roxy Lane Theatre on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Roxy Lane in Maylands each Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening for the two weeks until Saturday 5th October. The matinées had curtain up on Sunday at 2.00 pm.
The Scene: Today, in a typical downmarket student’s flat.
The set: The room walls are black, with brightly coloured 78s and LPs attached as a rainbow. There is a three-seater moquette settee and matching armchairs, with a coffee table and a side table holding a stereo system. The stage wings behind the seating is the bedroom area. On the other side of the stage is the kitchenette with a fully stocked fridge-freezer.
The stage manager was Ashlee McKenna, with assistant Jason Jones doing a lot of heavy lifting as moved the park bench in and out of the wings.
With only minimal equipment, the lighting and sound designed by its operator, Simon James, was most impressive. A good selection of backing music.
Steve Ashwood (James Garces) shares a flat with his girlfriend and his younger sister – his mentor – Jules (Belinda Harris). After two years of Steve’s lack of motivation and self-absorption, his ambitious and delightful girlfriend Simone (Mazey O’Reilly) is fed up, so packs her things. She is off to live with self-reliant Andy (McLane Catterall), a FIFO worker. For months Steve collapses physically and mentally, but with the help of Jules and his best friends Terry (Oliver Temby), an outspoken hard rock fan friend and his more sensitive, slightly nerdy pal, Craig (Harry Bell) he starts to create a new social life. Steve buys a Fender guitar from a middle-aged woman (Ashlee McKenna) and decides to become trendier.
Simone’s friend Ramona (Denim Piche) keeps Steve in touch with Simone’s new affair. Meanwhile poor Steve suffers dates with Karina (Charlize Mills) who believes in a very slow ‘getting to know each other’ period, followed by frigid Catherine. Then, after advice and encouragement from his friends came the hot ‘must have it now’, Jane (Keri Neale) and Stacy (Caity Rose)!
Some actors have more than one part, but I won’t say who as this is part of the show’s fun. The Mum’s unusual makeup was by Mazey O’Reilly.
One small whinge, was the first fifteen-minute interval after only half an hour of the play really necessary? If a break was required for technical reasons, perhaps telling the audience that there would be a 5-minute break and to stay in their seats, works well in many productions.
This show was presented by a theatre training school, so I went along with few expectations and ready to be generous in my review. However, despite the fact that I had only seen one of the actors perform before – yes, they really did have minimal stage performance experience – they oozed confidence, knew their parts intimately and were most professional. They nailed it. The cast had natural body movements and clear dialogue; this was helped by the high quality of the script which had believable characters and teenage dialogue, possibly thanks to co-writers Oliver and Mazey’s younger outlook. There were many laugh-out-loud moments, especially for the men in the audience who sat watching and chuckling as their own youth unfolded before them.
Thanks to the skills of the Director, Brenton Foale and his assistant director, Ashlee McKenna the show kept a wonderful pace. I could imagine this show being developed into a TV series, with this same cast. Excellent.