Reviewed by Kym Clayton
Who’s Under Where was Tea Tree Players’ fifth (!) production for the year. Jane and Sybil are about to sell their fledgling lingerie business to a famous Italian designer for a cool five million dollars. They have kept the business a secret from their husbands who have grown suspicious and decided to ‘spring’ their wives. In a hotel room where the sale of the business is being finalised, the husbands observe a scantily clad male model, a lecherous security guard and a suave Italian gentleman all paying their wives excessive attention. They of course jump to wrong conclusion, suspect their wives of infidelity and get themselves into a dreadful (and and increasingly unbelievable) pickle as they react to the situation. What should be a recipe for a good farce all becomes somewhat tiring. Playwrights Marcia Kash and Douglas Hughes are heavy handed with the script and they spoil the comedy by overworking the plot and this causes problems for the director Jo Allenby and her cast.
Lisa Wilton was a bit stiff in the role of Jane and needed to be a lot more lascivious as she drooled over photos of scantily clad men. Tina Cini fared better as Sybil and gave a better timed performance. Craig Brooker didn’t physically look the part as Sebastian the male model. Damon Hill played the fashionista Bruno Fruferelli with gusto and lifted the scenes with Wilton and Cini. Tony Woods looked uncomfortable as George and was entirely unbelievable as a jealous and suspicious husband. Paul Briske had to work hard to compensate for Woods’ low energy and was much more successful as Paul, the other husband. His drag scenes were quite amusing. The highlight of the play was Brian Godfrey’s characterization of Hodge the security guard. Godfrey’s comic timing was excellent. He understood the comic potential of the script and extracted everything that it offered. A well timed pause here, a glance to the audience there – Godfrey knew exactly what he was doing and he set the standard for the rest of the cast.
Allenby’s stage design worked extremely well on the small stage, and there was clear attention to detail. The scenic painting of the vista on the horizon was one of the better ones that I have seen. Her costume plot was excellent, and properties by Beth Venning were also particularly good. The production looked good, but Allenby’s cast struggled to overcome the limitations of a script that was at best adequate. The audience however loved it.