Reviewed by David Smith
It’s a tall order to achieve the challenge this play sets, yet Director Brady Gambling and his cast of three merry men made a pretty good fist of it. It was part Commedia and part adolescent romp and there was no shortage of energy in delivering it to us.
Part of the comic success was in the physical and temperamental contrasts between the three players. Jabez Retallick sustained the audience’s attention as the straight man. He was credible and engaging in a quiet, insistent way. Scott Brokenshire successfully handled the dual responsibilities of narrating for some of the time, and on other occasions being an often enigmatic participant in the action. James Barbary was a commanding presence in his various roles. He was mostly loud and boisterous, yet evoked real empathy with the monologue “What a piece of work is man”. As different as the three were, they managed to sustain the cracking pace and provided a stylistic unity to the whole piece.
The Blackwood audience enjoyed the action on stage, yet participated as required. It was a demanding script yet the writer had wisely chosen to dwell on a few of the better known plays, notably Othello, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. As good as the interpretation was, there could have been greater variety in creating the humour. The repeated balloons-as-boobs gag, for example, wore rather thin. However, the general concept worked well, with the actors rushing about to make their many quick costume changes, in the time-honoured style of travelling players.