The Appleton Ladies Potato Race – Tea Tree Players

The Appleton Ladies Potato Race – Tea Tree Players

Director Selena Carr has pulled together five experienced ladies to bring to the stage this truly Australian play written by Melanie Tate. It endeavors to bring to the fore the inconsistencies between the sexes highlighted in this instance by the difference in prize money for the potato race.

The local lady that has won the race many times and is against any change is Nikki Armstrong portrayed by Hayley Mitchell. There is no doubting the effervescence and very enthusiastic performance by Hayley that provides some of the comedy. However, relating this to what could have been realistic to a small country town girl requires some imagination. But then she was also able to show her dramatic acting ability when the tide turns against her.

In contrast the roles of Penny Anderson and Rania Hamid portrayed respectively by Sonja Lawrance and Kahlia Feuerreiter were believable. Penny is the local girl that returns as a doctor and does not hide her lesbian traits. She leads the drive to have women recognised with equal prize money. Rania is the refugee who seeks recognition and is the main support for Penny. Each of these characters have their own stories to tell that are cleverly interspersed throughout the play.

The matriarch of the town is Bev Armstrong played by Heather Riley, she rules the committee which is necessary as more often than not there are only two people present at the meetings. Her portrayal as the country town leader struck a chord with the audience with her no-nonsense attitude.

The other member and secretary of the committee is Barb Ling portrayed by Chris Galipo. She has the unenviable job of correcting and trying to guide Bev. In her younger days she practised running around the paddocks with a bag of potatoes on her shoulders. Could she have been the mysterious Alexander Strumpet?

The seemingly simple set at the start of Act 1 quickly turned to various well constructed sets with the hard working backstage crew. These variations and the backlighting sequences were supported with the extremely efficient and well placed lighting and sound by Zack Brittain and Mike Phillips. All of the production crew at Tea Tree Players lived up to the high performance standard we have come to expect.

For a glimpse into small town Australian with some comedy and deep meanings intertwined this play is worth every penny of the admittance.

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