Director Sally Putnam and her cast did well to sustain the narrative and focus in this well-paced comedy. Beginning with auditions and rehearsals for the play-within-the-play and moving into the revived romance between that play’s leads, known as “He” and “She”, the overall performance had the necessary sure direction. That was all the more important because the script presented several non-sequential events. Given the play’s title, it was no surprise that there was lots of on-stage and off-stage kissing. While that gave opportunity for some good physical comedy and romance, the title was essentially the symbolic link between the main characters’ relationship in the staged and un-staged sequences.
Fortunately the two central characters Anita Zamberlan Canala as “She”, and Andrew Clark as “He”, really know their craft and they showed it. They held the whole often scarcely credible sequence of events together. In a play without much in the way of subtlety, both of these experienced performers were nuanced in handling their characters’ ever-changing on-off-on-off romance, as well as the various characters and accents they were asked to play. Zamberlan Canala was solid, convincing and vulnerable in her portrayal of “Her” part in that central relationship as well as with the other characters, especially “Her” husband and daughter. Clark’s fine timing and deep sense of comic theatre were apparent through all the twists and turns of the various plots. Both he and Zamberlan Canala, while playing the larger-than-life melodramatic characters in rehearsals of the revival of The Last Kiss, were broad and funny in their portrayals, without falling into mere overacting. That is not easy to sustain, yet they did so.
The supporting cast worked well as an ensemble. Adrian Heness was agitated and excited as the irritatingly incompetent Director. His silent movie inspired jerkiness added to the general comedy and, when necessary, the sense of disorder. Once he had established his erratic character, we found the absurd plot of the Director’s own playscript to be almost credible. Scott Battersby was the perfect straight man, providing a nice contrast with the occasionally frantic action around him, while Grainne O’Connell as “Her” daughter Angela, made the most of her appearances especially when being petulant. Samara Gambling was convincing as “His” rather colourless partner, in strong contrast to “Her” life and fire. Anthony Vawser was impressive in his multiple roles, which he differentiated skilfully. Kevin and the Doctor were especially well drawn.
The play is essentially a comedy yet with occasional underlying moments of serious truth. Galleon’s director, cast and crew were definitely up to the task of exploiting both.