If the train standing at the station is called the ‘Twentieth Century’, get on board now!
Director Kerrin White’s production of Therry’s first offering for 2021 is great fun. Before even considering the acting talent the star turn is the set, or should I say the train set… Congratulations to all involved in the set design (Kerrin White and Don Oswald) and set construction (Don Oswald and his team), and the shunting crew who provided the wonderful illusion of a moving train.
Into this very elegant passenger train travelling between Chicago and New York in the 1930’s step an assortment of larger than life characters, played by an excellent acting ensemble. Playright Ken Ludwig’s script is fast paced and witty and all performers rise to the occasion.
The plot centres around bombastic Broadway producer Oscar Jaffe (Lindsay Dunn) and his machinations to persuade former ingénue and lover Lily Garland (Shelley Crooks), now a Hollywood star, to sign up for his next production to get him out of debt. Both are very well cast and seem to relish their roles. Lindsay’s Oscar is so hilariously persuasive in his private script pitch to Lily that he could probably sign up the whole audience. Shelley’s Lily epitomises the glitz and glamour of Hollywood while being as ruthless as Oscar.
Frank Cwiertiniak as the train’s conductor manages the travelling celebrities and their demands, an escaped lunatic and general mayhem with the air of a man who has seen it all before. Passengers Dr Grover Lockwood (Ben Todd) and his lady friend Anita Highland (Rose Harvey) are very funny as the couple hoping for a private hideaway on the train. Oscar’s manager Ida Webb is expertly played by Maxine Grubel with great stage presence and organisational skills. Stephen Bills as Owen’s secretary and general henchman Owen O’Malley manages to be both a support and a liability between drinks. John Leigh Gray as Matthew Clark, potential investor and possible lunatic is charmingly eccentric. James Fazzalari portrays Lily’s agent and jealous lover with aplomb. And Damien White smoothly plays everyone else with many a costume and personality change.
This is a great night at the theatre.
Finally thank you to the front of house team and volunteers who went all out to deliver a Covid-safe experience for their patrons.