The Stirling Players have emerged from the Covid closet with a brace of one act Australian plays ably directed by Bronwyn Chapple.
“The Margarine Conspiracy” is an innocuous snapshot of human relationships and attitudes pertaining to the environment. “Barbara” is played in a relaxed and competent manner by Rebecca Gardner. She often plays generous hostess to her friend “Helen” (Georgi Clough) and her friend’s partner “Tom” (Andrew Aitken).
Tom, a zealous recycler, is a proponent of “clean and green” and avid letter writer re all of the above. Helen is far too nice and much too compliant with most of Tom’s whims, but there is the potential for self realisation. Barbara looks on and offers suggestions to her friends whilst providing us with occasional commentary about the background relationships. Will Tom and Helen live separately? Will Tom realise his “National Geographic” inspired idea and move to Utah? Will the planet ever be rid of plastic and other pollutants?
An interesting little play for all of us living in a State with an enviable record of recycling and environmental initiatives. I also found it interesting that the two women had good jobs, Helen’s recently acquired, but the priggish Tom who dreams of pastoral bliss, just cannot get his act together!
The ensemble worked quite well together. Whilst the piece had several flat spots and lacked pace overall, I’m sure this will improve during the course of the season.
The notion of an advertising agency circa 1890 quite appeals to me. In “Down Came a Jumbuck” it is the setting for a lively creative conference in order to construct a possible Aussie Anthem.
Agency principal “Hubert” (a dour, careful and conservative Malcolm Walton) is seeking some iconic Aussie imagery to match and complete the task. Not your stock standard stuff like gum trees or kangaroos but something with an edge. “Truth is for suckers” he is wont to quote. His clerk Andy, nicknamed “Banjo”(a bright, thoughtful and ideally cast Lochie Daniel) happens to be a bit of a poet! Together with the creative director (an energetic, colourful and ribald Maxine Grubel) they play with ideas and language to gradually mould a masterpiece.
I liked it, and so did the audience. It was accessible, amusing and delightfully jingoistic. It was also well paced and beautifully timed by the trio.
I must say that I thought Lochie Daniel took acting honours on the night. He has a natural ease on stage and his acting skills will only broaden with experience. Well done!
The sets for both pieces were effective and functional. Lighting by Dale Evans was sharp and on cue, whilst costuming by Lucy Zilm (especially for “Jumbuck”) was spot on.
A great return to the lovely Stirling Theatre. May your audience number allowance increase!