Reviewed by Janice Bailey
The Independent Theatre have a well-earned reputation for presenting a high calibre of theatre in Adelaide. Their current production of a period comedy “Before the Party” is no exception. Written by Rodney Ackland from a short story by Somerset Maughan, the play is set in Surrey over a summer afternoon and evening in 1947.
Director Rob Croser has once again assembled a fine cast who do justice to a superbly crafted play which relies on excellent timing and delivery. Madeleine Herd, as Laura, has just returned from Borneo as a widow. Madeliene’s experience is evident in her stage presence and likeability, even when the suspicious circumstances of her widowhood are revealed. Will Cox once again delivers a controlled performance as David, a travelling salesman and Laura’s current beau – and who, it is implied, has a somewhat ‘murky’ background. Laura Antoniazzi, delivers a strong performance as Laura’s jealous sister, taking command of the stage whenever she appears. Jenna Bezuidenhout as the younger sister, Susan, makes an outstanding debut with the Independent, exhibiting clear understanding of her character and role. Myra Waddell is a suitably, somewhat confused Nanny who tries to keep the household in some kind of order. Bronwyn Ruciak, as Blanche, the matriarch of the household has some wonderful lines which she delivers with her usual aplomb, creating an hilarious and bemused mother. David Roach as Aubrey Skinner, the patriarch of the household who futilely tries to keep the household in order, delivers a commanding performance, although at times, this reviewer found his staccato and metered delivery a little annoying.
The set design by David Roach and Rob Croser exhibits uncompromising attention to detail which we have come to expect from Independent Productions. Judy Chapman, Pattie Atherton, Isabelle Zengerer and Sandra Davis have sourced costumes suitable to the era and the individual characters.
This was a couple of hours of frivolity and enjoyment of a well-crafted play presented by an excellent cast who clearly understood their roles.
Photo Above: Before the Party Madeleine Herd & Will Cox