Reviewed by Richard Lane
The Rep’s current production is identical in format to one they did three years ago. A turgid yet quaintly funny melodrama intersperced with popular old -fashioned singalong songs.
As with all melodramas,the plot is shot full of holes, but it centres around the mysterious disappearance and death of Owen White who went for a trip to Glenelg in a Hansom cab and was never seen again. Enter Felix the dastardly villain whose evil doings are soon revealed. It seems that White was in possession of some documents revealing unsavoury details of the heroine’s birth. Revelation would bring shame to her family giving Felix the upper hand to marry her against her father’s wishes.
After many twists and turns, Felix is brought to boot with justice and love (of course) prevailing.
Director Gary Anderson, stepping in after the original incumbent’s illness, has produced a funny show with many belly laughs and some “blue” lines from a wonderful stand -up scene from Ethel Schwartz (Is that really who it is?) That said, melodrama should be played way over the top so that we can laugh at the play and also at a form of theatre once taken so seriously. Penni Hamilton-Smith couldn’t have been any “bigger” and was marvellous in her role as Sal Rawlins. Barry Hill was polished as the villain Felix, but could have been more menacing. As Master of Ceremonies, Joshua Coldwell was masterful, with a commanding stage presence and a powerful voice to jolly us all along. Others to do well in a competent cast were Jude Hines as Mother Guttersnipe, Lindy Le Cornu as Rubina Hamilton doing her reprise of the “Balloon Dance” and Chris Meegan,who also gave a lovely rendition of “Danny Boy”.