Director Rob Croser and Independent Theatre have a real winner with this genuinely funny and engaging piece. The comedy, while clearly of its time in the 1940s, succeeds now because it is in such safe hands.
Madeleine Herd was brilliant as Billie. It is very difficult to play a ditzy bubble gum popper who is smarter than she appears, but this is a triumph. Herd’s interpretation was nuanced, subtle and well-timed. She immediately created the credibility of the character and did not falter thereafter. And she was very funny.
Stuart Pearce played Harry to the hilt. He was very strong and obnoxiously convincing, especially when in full flight bragging and bullying those around him. He was convincingly flummoxed when Billie deserted him for Paul, the reporter Harry had hired to smarten and polish her, Pygmalion-like, so she could impress the Washington elite.
David Roach’s experience and skill made a very engaging Ed Devery. For a character with a drinking problem, the temptation could have been to overact and play him as a stumbling drunk. Roach did nothing of that kind, and was far more believable for it.
All roles were well cast and directed. Jonathan Johnston showed a fine range of skills as Billie’s tutor and love interest, while the younger actors Thomas Tessema and Jenna Bezuidenhout impressed in their multiple roles.
Played against a customarily well-conceived and decorated set by Roach and Croser, the play worked well, with a strong sense of ensemble.
This is a comedy you should make a real effort to see.