Groping For Words – Tea Tree Players

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Sue Townsend is a genuinely funny writer – remember Adrian Mole? – and this play of hers, while being serious about adult illiteracy, is sprinkled with plenty of humour both verbal and physical. In this production, director Sylvia Bolinbroke and her focussed cast of four made a very good fist of it.

The box set of a classroom had effective cut-away walls allowing for a downstage corridor. That brought agreeably smooth scene transitions except for one awkward change in the second Act, abetted by the closing of the curtain.

Samuel Creighton was convincingly understated as Kevin Muldoon, the school caretaker. He was by turns nonchalant, seedy, assertive and vulnerable. His was the character who developed most, and Creighton managed that very well.

Danni Fulcher played Joyce Chalmers, the adult literacy teacher, with a firmness nicely balanced with empathy. She was a good contrast and foil to the others, especially Kevin’s gags and wisecracks. Yet there was more to her than the obvious. A highlight of the play was when she paid Kevin back in kind for his smarmy advances.

The other two characters got many of their deserved laughs by way of innocence and naivety. George Humphries brought us a George Bishop who was a likeable and decent man, having suffered and survived years of disadvantage from being illiterate. Keyarra Maur, as the nanny Thelma, in her first role with the company, showed great promise. She sustained the character well, with good focus and timing. This was an entertaining and thoughtful production, well worth seeing.