Reviewed by Richard Lane
According to director Tony Moore, the opening night of Stage Whisper was doubly special: a world premiere for first-time local playwright Kay Acaster but also the launch of Moore Books SA, a new venture set up to publish scripts and act as agents for their performing rights.
Stage Whisper is an interesting piece of theatre centred on actors who are rehearsing the revival of a melodrama called Harrow Hall whose initial run twenty years earlier, was tragically marred by the accidental death of its leading man due to a malfunctioning stage dagger.
The Palace Theatre, site of the original Harrow Hall production, is set for demolition and the revival is fundraiser intended to spare the old theatre from the developers' wrecking ball. The convoluted plot has many twists and turns, too many to detail here, but it is obvious that several of the current actors in the original piece are still haunted by the death of Terence, the ill-fated star of the earlier production.
Acaster has written the play in a very cinematic style – lots and lots of short scenes, followed by blackouts and scene changes, which the audience patiently sat through. Unfortunately too many for the patience of this critic.
The pace overall was generally good although the energy dipped occasionally.
The experienced Joanna Webb (Anne/Lady Edwina) was the standout performer, ably supported by Maxine Grubel (Gloria/Gladys) and Damien White (Cameron/Lord Dudley)
The two younger leads, Tallora DiGirolami and Craig McArdle (who played Megan/Marigold and Kingsley/Jerald respectively) were attractive and lively but often had problems with diction.
The wardrobe department certainly did not run over budget as it often appeared as if the men were in a parade of t-shirts and some of the other costumes seemed hastily prepared.
It must have been a thrill for playwright Acaster to be present at the first outing of her play. It is a very creditable effort and she must be congratulated. With some further revision, some longer scenes and fewer scene changes, this play may well do good box office.