‘Spencer’ is a brand-new comedy-drama, written in 2020 by award-winning playwright Katy Warner; Katy was brought up – or should I say dragged up? – in WA, before heading to Victoria to study for her Master’s in Writing for Performance. Whilst still in her twenties, Katy has already had several major awards thrust upon her, with the genres ranging from children’s stories to this hilarious adult fiasco.
After working with Melbourne’s major theatre groups and being involved with their writing programmes, Katy decided to take this play – ‘Spencer’- on a countrywide tour, that included exotic places like Moora in the intineriry. With the reaction of so many categories of audiences, Katy has managed to hone the writing to a tight script, with very well-developed characters being brought to life in her clever writing. It has been described as a delightful blend of ‘The Castle’ and ‘Kath and Kim’.
Yes, I am enthusiastic, this is a brilliant, well-observed script where the story gives us an intimate look at a dazzlingly dysfunctional Australian family.
The season runs at the Old Mill Theatre, corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, in South Perth. The two-hour performances are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7.30, with matinées at 2.00 pm on until Saturday 5th February.
Serial Productions are proudly staging a Charity Night in support of the Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation of WA. Serial Productions will be donating 50% of the proceeds from all tickets purchased for the Saturday 22nd January performance, to this worthwhile organisation. All tickets for this night are at a flat rate of $30.00 each + 50 cent booking fee. Thank you for your support.
Serial Productions is a Perth theatre company that was started in 2011 by a group of friends involved in the Perth Community Theatre scene. Their aim was to bring BBC Television Series such as ‘Open All Hours’ and quality plays to life on the Perth Theatre stage.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Serial Productions wish to advise that in line with government requirements all people attending at the Old Mill Theatre from 31st January onward will be required to produce proof of Double Vaccination along with Photo ID.
If you are unable to comply with this when at the theatre, we regret that you will be refused entry and no refund will be issued. THIS IS NOT NEGOTIABLE.
Until further notice, masks will be required to be worn at all times whilst inside the theatre except when eating or drinking.
Scene: 1980. Marilyn’s middleclass home, in any Aussie city, struggling to survive.
Set: A sitting room that is smart but furnished on a budget. With bland cream walls and brown woodwork. The walls are adorned with family photos going back a couple of generations, and a collection of faded copies of famous artworks. There is a sixties sound system on a crammed bookrack and a footie ball.
On the left of the room is an archway, leading the bedrooms – it is crowned with a Texas’ style, set of bull’s horns.
A brown patterned, cloth covered three-seater settee is centre stage with two grey, shag wool cushions. At the rear of the room is another arch to the kitchen and back door. The green kitchen was equipped with a large fridge, a workbench and yet another set of horns. Another George Boyd masterpiece, appropriately furnished by props manager Lesley Sutton.
Sound design: The soundscape included a delightful recording of Brittany Isaia’s own composition – vocals and guitar – about life in a mixed-up family. There were several precise sound cues, easily handled by the sound designer and operator, George Boyd.
Lighting design: With a simple sitting room, one would expect Shelly Miller’s lighting design to be warm yellow, on and off. However, she has given depth and mood changes with the lighting tones; at one stage a drop of the floods gave a simple spot lit area at the front of the stage.
Stage manager: The room’s décor was enhanced substantially during the first Act, mainly by the cast as part of the storyline. This worked smoothly with additional prop changes between scenes.
Young Scotty (Charlie Young), the shy and insecure, younger son of the family, has discovered that a possible one nightstand has made him a proud father. The little boy, Spencer, is now two years old and is coming around to meet Scotty and the ‘other’ grandma, matriarchal Marilyn (Jacqui Warner) for the first time. Scotty is apprehensive about the visit, and so the last thing he needs is his older larrikin brother, Ben (Luke Miller) creating the usual mayhem. All his life, Scotty has had to suffer at the hands of mouthy Ben, who just knows how to push everyone’s buttons. Could this be Scotty’s chance to stand up to this bullying footy player? The sister, Jules (Kylie Isaia) is a happy go lucky type but is constantly reminded that by neither being married nor a mother yet, she has not really proved her womanhood.
When the head of the house, Ian (John Taylor), who has not been seen for 20 years returns to the home, perhaps all will be well. Is blood really thicker than water?
When an Aussie classic like ‘The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll’ is showing its age quite badly, this could be the new classic we are looking for. The script observes the love in a family, the type from hell that we all have living next door. The era of the plot is ageless, it would work a hundred years ago or decades into the future. Families have always been like this.
Invariably, Serial Productions give superb renditions of their plays. The pace, characterisation and hidden emotional effects of the past, are all in this story.
Congratulations to director Rob Warner for his clever handling of a script that is much deeper than one thinks at first.
Rob has selected a top cast. The star of the show is Luke Miller who is energetic, unpredictable, loveable, and yet obnoxious. Annoying yet caring. Cunning and generous, what a blend. Luke’s whole body portrays what is going on in Ben’s twisted mind. The years of struggle show through in poor Marilyn’s dilemma ridden face. Even quiet Scotty and his easy-going sister Jules, show us the sadness in their lives. Ian, well he is just a deluded middle-aged man, confused as to why he is being treated like he is. Great cast, with each actor conquering their characterisation.
This show oozes quality. Plenty of laughs, with added pathos. Loved it.