Summer Shorts

‘Summer Shorts’ are four light-hearted, sparkling one-act comedies all beautifully written; the first is by a writer from the Victorian era and the last three treasures by well-known Perth playwrights.

The Melville Theatre Company is presenting this two-week season at the comfortable Melville Theatre on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway in Palmyra. The two-hour shows begin at 8.00 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings until Saturday 22nd February.

Except for the first play, the sets are minimal and supplied by the director and cast of each.

The lighting design and operation is by Jacob Jensen. The directors have selected the music and any soundscape which was also operated by Jacob.

The season was co-ordinated, and stage managed by Susan Lynch.

‘Fourteen’           is a satire written by Chicago born, Alice Gerstenberg and directed by Carmen Dohle.

The set: is the sumptuous dining room of a wealthy New York home in the 1920’s. A long dining table is set for its maximum of fourteen guests. Only the finest of crockery, crystal and cutlery has been laid out. In the corner is a whatnot with a telephone and a plant.

Mrs Pringle (Susan Lynch) is a highly-strung host, determined to impress her carefully chosen guests. This evening, a dinner party of 14 guests was expected, but there has been a horrendous snowstorm and some of her guests are cancelling. Dunham the butler (Alex Banham) struggles to cope with the changing number of diners. Mrs Pringle’s maiden daughter, Elaine (Maree Stedul) ‘needs’ a husband so the party musty go on.

A hilarious play, slightly reminiscent of the internationally famous ‘Dinner for One’, which has a simple theme but when immaculately handled by the cast reached its full potential.

Because of her experience in all aspects of theatre, you would never guess that this is Carmen’s first time as director. This style of panic handled with a ‘stiff upper lip’ takes skill, however, the director had the shambles well planned and every laugh was delivered. A tricky play to present but most successful. VERY funny.

‘Daddy’s Little Girl’         was written and directed by Noel O’Neill. This is part of his wonderful series of ‘tales from a park bench’ that cover all aspects of life. Another wonderful look at life from Noel O’Neill.

The set: a white painted bench in a New York park.

A father, Harry (Malcolm Douglas) is trying to have a final bonding session with his daughter, Mimi (Indiana Powell) before the panic of her upcoming wedding. Every sensible question or request for confirmation by Harry is met with derision. It becomes obvious that the ideal wedding for the couple is on completely different tracks.

If you are parents of newly married youngsters, then every word of this script will ring true. The characters are instantly recognisably – the traditional father watching his budget and the young excited bride-to-be, wanting the best.

Plenty of laughs in this perfectly structured script. As always, tremendous real-life dialogue from Noel authentically presented. Although based in New York, thankfully there was just a hint of accent. The director subtly showed the young girl sidling up to her father and soft talking her demands. Lovely moments that will have brought back real memories to the audience.

‘Taking sides’                     written and directed by Suzannah Churchman.

Suzannah Churchman is regularly nominated for her acting skills, here we have one of her first-class short plays that is true to life, full of action and well-directed. Suzannah first directed this play with a cast of youngsters, here she sees her play come to life as she had originally envisaged.

The set: the changing rooms of the Ashton Battlers junior team. The team benches being represented by two chairs. A couple of scenes in Optus Stadium.

Young Hase Roberts (Jack Churchman) is developing very well as a junior footie player, when a young girl, Sam Jeffries (Bella Freeman) joins the team. She becomes his main competition for the state try-outs and when it comes to being chosen for the team by their coach Barry (Phil Barnett) there is ill will. Throughout, Hase has the support of his battling family, Darlene (Indiana Powell) and his Dad, Davo (Jason Wall).

With most of the script action, young Bella and Jack interacted perfectly with glimpses of shyness and moments of steamed up aggravation. The youngsters moved around the stage with forethought and a full understanding of their script. They showed strong chemistry.

Great work from a strong cast, on a topical subject.

‘Fleeced!’                            written and directed by local actor, Bob Charteris who has written twenty plays over a decade; he recently gained a Dramafest nomination.

The set: a loungeroom in suburban Perth over a few months.

Roger (Peter O’Connor) arrives home to find his widowed stepmother, Marion (Di Ryman) just leaving with her suitcases. She is setting off for France to become acquainted with a wealthy man, Count Jean-Pierre (Justin Markham) that she has just met on the internet.

Roger’s marriage is on the rocks, not surprising when his wife, Fiona (Ella Waterman) has barely two brain cells to rub together. Just as things are heating up, a neighbour Sam (Rex Gray) who has designs on Marion arrives in time to see her departure – he is devastated.

Is Marion up to her neck in some new scam?

This a fun filled short play, with several twists. It is presented by a very well-rehearsed cast whose fine work keeps you guessing until the end. Most enjoyable, but perhaps on this occasion a director different to the playwright would have given a tighter presentation to this clever play with good dialogue. Bob is a fine director, but I am rarely a fan of writers directing their own work.

These four excellent plays will give you a great night of mixed entertainment genres, delivered by a good team of actors.