‘Wife after Death’

‘Wife after Death’ was written by Eric Chappell, and published in 2011. Eric Chappell wrote the classic TV series ‘Rising Damp’ that won a BAFTA and the Evening Standard Film award for best comedy. He is indisputably one of the leading comedy writers in Britain today.

The two-hour performances of this extremely funny comedy (not a farce) can be seen at the Melville Theatre, on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Melville nightly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 6th December. There is one matinee; it is on Sunday 30th November at 2.00 pm.

The scene is the present day, in the Thursby’s sitting room. The set is a sumptuous room with French windows (designer Joan Scafe, built by Peter Bloor and Ross Bertinshaw).

The walls are ice green, the furniture a white three-piece suite, with antique oak table and mirrors. In the centre of the room is a casket and wreaths on a trestle.

     The highly popular TV comedian, Dave Thursby, has died and his friends are gathering in his house for his funeral. The first to arrive is Dave’s scriptwriter and best friend, curmudgeon Harvey (Peter Bloor) who has kept him top of the ratings for a decade. With Harvey is his long-suffering wife, Vi (Sharon Menzies) who is trying to get her squeamish husband to look into the open coffin and pay his last respects to Dave.

       Harvey whispers to Vi that only a day or two earlier, Dave had confided in him, admitting to a rather delicate subject that could blow their careers to pieces.
       One of the TV executives, Kevin (Andrew O’Connell) and his production secretary, wife, Jane (Tatiana Dalin) have helped Dave’s leggy wife, Laura (Jennifer McGrath) arrange the private funeral – for close friends and relatives only. Just before the service begins, a rather tarty looking woman, who no one seems to recognise, appears at the house, she is Kay (Andrea Von Bertouch).

The Melville Theatre is renowned for its quality drama productions, but recently they do not have many comedies under their belt. I was therefore a little dubious as to how good this production would be, as Chappell’s comedy is a specialised genre and takes particularly good comedic actors to carry out the dry humour.

The highly experienced director, Joan Scafe, has chosen a wonderful cast and led them skilfully through all of the twists and turns. The teamwork was magnificent and every joke delivered with subtlety. This must have been one of Peter Bloor’s best performances.

The lighting design and set painting was by courtesy of the Jensen Clan, with sound and lighting operated by Sue Lynch.

Plenty of surprises and fresh humour in this family comedy. Very well acted and certainly worth seeing.