‘The Campervan Tales’ is a series of three- or four-minute plays, all written by Perth playwright James Forte, a scientist with a passion for writing. A couple of these were delightful monologues in the style of Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’. Blak Yak Theatre whose main aim is to encourage and help new writers kindly offered to put on James’s collection, each being directed by a different director; however, in the end, Jarrod Buttery was ‘lumbered’ with the challenging task of directing the whole six.
This 110-minute production was put on for one-night, 27th September at 7.00 pm, as a theatre-meal production at Rigby’s Bar in St George’s Terrace in Perth; then on Saturday the 28th September as a standard production in the Garrick Theatre in Guildford.
Lighting design and operation were by Jarrod Buttery and Michael McAllan.
Soundscape operated by Vanessa Gudgeon had a wide cross section of music, from James Bond to the Moody Blues.
The Scene: Beyond the black stump eight travellers in their campervans have been cut off by floodwaters. Whilst waiting for the waters to recede they relate stories from their lives.
The Set: a few tables and chairs – all that was required.
‘Night Train from Rastani’
On a train in Eastern Europe, a young woman (Vanessa Vance) meets a man (Ben Small) – a fellow Aussie. They are enjoying each other’s company when a threatening soldier (David Heder) storms onto the train and takes them to the passport office for further checks. Is there a hidden secret?
A good story, with two enigmatic characters and a story of intrigue and tension. The three actors worked well together, feeding the story out at a perfect pace.
‘The Stained-Glass Portrait’
Dr Brenda Wilson (Ann Speicher) discloses a schoolgirl ‘merry jape’ (to quote the Secret Seven) that carried on for years and has one wondering, who exactly is this doctor talking to the group?
Ann is a highly admired actor, having been nominated for various awards, but sadly on Saturday night she was having a problem focusing – something that happens to us all at some time or another. Ann kept smiling and managed to bring the tale to satisfactory end. The story was fascinating and I wonder how many of us have tried something similar in our seedy pasts.
‘The Gold Brick Safety System’
A young secretary, Sybil (Sarah Thillagaratnam) is working for an airline company and is desperate for promotion. One day she comes up with a novel idea to make her truly indispensable.
Unfortunately, the original actor had to withdraw from the part only a couple of days before the production went up. Sarah stepped in and performed the piece as a reading / moved reading with plenty of emotion and passion. Well done, you did the fascinating story justice.
‘A Bloke’s Coda’
Young Barry (Josh Harris) who is in his final year at school is desperately trying to find a specific poetry book in his father’s book collection. His Dad (Paul Cook) is suspicious, why would a tearaway like Barry want a volume of romantic verse?
Two strong performances, with a good rapport between father and son. Any parent would recognise the son instantly. The storyline had a good twist.
‘Busselton Jetty 1969’
On a holiday in Busselton, Dr Amanda Kingston (Vanessa Vance) recalls the days of her youth and the boy of her dreams, Steve (David Heder).
A beautifully poignant tale that brings a tear to the eye. Another powerful performance from Vanessa.
‘Kurkervation, Volume 6’
Dr Eddy (Sarah Christiner) is thrilled to be invited to her latest book launch and signing. On the stage to interview her is radio personality, Whirl (Ben Small) an egotistic, totally self-centred pain in the posterior. Can she get her message across to her enthusiastic fans?
Great teamwork as a cool intelligent scientist meets a presenter from hell. Sarah was at her best, coping with a wonderfully annoying Ben. Plenty of laughs.
A couple of minutes is such a short time to create a personality and lay down a meaningful and interesting storyline, but in each case the actors, under the watchful and advising eye of the director Jarrod, presented their well-crafted piece. A good mix of stories giving a good night-out to all.