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lane cove theatre company’s latest : a zany comedy

Michelle Bellamy. Pic by Robert Schaverien

This was always going to be a good afternoon. I picked up a good friend of mine from Bondi Junction, crossed the Harbour Bridge and headed over to Longueville to go and see the latest production  by the Lane Cove Theatre Company.

I love going to see shows by this Company which very resourcefully perform their shows out of creating a theatre venue from a small childcare centre.

The front of house of staff are always a cheerful lot and always make one feel welcome and set up up something akin to a tuck shop where they offer a cocktail of the day or a glass of red or white wine, freshly made cupcakes or brownies, and the usual cans of soft drinks and small chocolates. There is a small outside (backyard) area where one can enjoy one’s drink before the show starts.

Lane Cove Theatre productions are always performed with a lot of energy and attention to craft.  Last show I saw at Lane Cove was Stephen Sondheim’s musical ASSASSINS which was engaging but dark. This show promised a lighthearted experience.

Andrew Castle’s production delivered on its promise. The show is about an erstwhile but not very artful community theatre company putting on a murder myself whodunnit written by a director who is inexperienced in writing. Basically, everyone runs amok in the show and there was a steady stream of laughter.

I hadn’t heard of this show but reading the Director’s program note, this play actually premiered in the always adventurous Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1980, and the two playwrights revised the show in 1988 and it is this production that we saw.

It is a kind of madcap theatre that works really well when the timing is right and the Lane Cove Theatre’s cast, Michelle Bellamy, Pauline Gardner, Chevaun Williams, Janette Chambers Oliver Wilson, Victoria Brown and Jennifer Farrell, manage it well.

The staging impressed with set design by the director (Andrew Castle), costume coordinator Helen Kohlhagen, lighting, sound and technical crew Byron Rowley, Isabella Rowley, Mira Paranjasingham and Michael Dalton, and choreographer Sarah Friedrich.

My first experience of this kind of show was seeing the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Michael Frayn’s brilliant 1982 comedy Noises Off. Just great.

Interestingly, the Ensemble Theatre’s last show for 2023  was  in the same vein, Ensemble Theatre Artistic Mark Kilmurry together with actor Jamie Oxenbould wrote the play Midnight Murder at Hamlington  where a community theatre performs a murder mystery whodunit where things go continuously wrong. The Ensemble Theatre had a very successful season with it.

I guess that I’d have to say that I have made my fill of this kind of theatre for a while. There is no doubting its entertainment value.

THE FARNDALE AVENUE HOUSING ESTATE TOWNSWOMEN’S GUILD DRAMATIC SOCIETY MURDER MYSTERY,  a comedy by David McGillvray and Walter Zerlin Jnr, directed  by Andrew Castle, is playing the Performance Space @St Aidan’s, 1 Christina Street, Longueville until Sunday 25 February 2024.

Performances: Friday 16th February at 7.30pm, Saturday 17th February at 7.30pm, Sunday 18th February at 2pm, Friday 23 February at  7.30pm, Saturday 24 February at 7.30pm. The final performance is on Sunday  25 February at 2pm.


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