THIS is one of those plays to which almost everyone can relate – either as part of their past or the present. It’s filled with teen anguish and motherly love.
The play, being adapted from a novel has a lot of narrative spots, all done by Alex, which makes the role a particularly difficult one for a young actor. But Margaret Bell, making her debut as a director after many years of stage management found exactly the right man for the job.
Stephen Quinn is a second year drama student and obviously understands the role well. He’s been there: done that. He is also a tall, bleach haired guy who looks as if he spends hours surfing and lying in the sun. He played Alex excellently, a true teenager, at times wise and smart others gauche and dumb according to the hormonal balance – and he handled his many pages of dialogue with great assurance as he slipped seamlessly from teenager to narrator. He had a great rapport with his single mum Tessa, played by Selina Kadell. Selina was terrific as the overworked, possessive mother who was trying desperately to let go of the apron strings. She won heaps of giggles with her delivery and the scenes between the two were very real.
So too the scenes with Alex and Fortuna, the daughter of a hippy couple who live in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. She was played by Alice Long, who I last saw doing a terrific job in a play called Silly Cow. I thought her performance in this play was even better. She almost stole the show as was the perfect teenager. She flirted, showed her insecurity and her gentle love-play with Alex was beautiful to watch. She showed her bravado when talking about her rather strange father and invalid mother, and I found myself looking forward to the scenes between the boy and girl.
Fortuna’s father Cliff was bravely played by John White. I say brave because the first thing we see of this eccentric potter is a naked backside. Luckily the front is covered by an apron. The blasé Fortuna explains to the stunned Alex that it’s just the way he works. He feels comfortable It seems that Cliff is also a singer on the lookout for the final voice for his country band and the bewildered Alex is drawn into the strange family. Fortuna’s mother is Gail, played in very Blanche Dubois sort of way by Selina Kadell in total contrast to her other role.
In the middle of all this are a couple of other characters, a very odd plumber named Fred and a friendly neighbour called Len, who played enthusiastically by Ross Coombes. The set was impressionistic, covering several different locations and it worked well with Brian Hobby’s atmospheric lighting plot. It continues at Chelmer until April 4. Bookings on 07 3379 3937.
ERIC SCOTT March 16, 2009
Centenary Theatre Group (CTG), at their Chelmer Community Centre, portray Ben Elton’s comedy, Popcorn. Rolling out the red carpet for a full house, CTG bring this challenging, two dimensional satire to life with over the top egos, Hollywood duplicity and sex on a stick. Clearly a fan, Rod Felsch directs a cast of nine into a surreal and vapid existence that is Ben Elton’s imagination of all things American.
Make no mistake, this is satire that will hit you in the crotch. Drug use, coarse language and perhaps the finest strip tease I’ve seen on stage for a long while backed up with lots and lots of killing. It’s fast paced, all the characters have an edge to them and Gary Kliger makes one hell of an asshole. In fact, his grating, whining, American dialect is so good that at the end of Act Two you just want to punch his corpse to make sure he’s dead.
If you only know of Ben Elton’s television credits you should get out to see this show to see what a hard hitting, pull no punches kind of writer he is. The man just doesn’t like American pop culture and presents you with a cast of characters with absolutely no redeeming features at all. And it is hilarious. All the cast have it nailed, they are brash, dishonest, scary and out for number one and only number one. Ms Lane as Brooke Daniels is ‘one hell of a broad’ and even has some excellent one liners while bleeding slowly to death. Mr Quinn shines as the morally superior serial killer, Wayne Hudson and is backed up deliciously by the simplistically innocent Alice Long as Scout.
There is some seriously good work going on, on stage at CTG this season, everyone is focused and on cue and the laughs from the audience are loud and consistent.
Written by Victor Darling, 12 September 2009, Facebook Group – Community Critique
The Woman in Black
This was one of those occasions when a community theatre group puts a show that is every bit as good as a fully professional theatre company. The Centenary Theatre is often a cut above other amateur groups, but The Woman in Black has lifted the standard even higher. … The set design by Genevieve Morrow Garner was atmospheric and efficient, with the front of the stage grim and grey and at the rear and, behind a scrim, the two well-furnished rooms in the haunted house.
And I have to admit that the sound and lighting design by Brian Hobby is without doubt the best I have ever seen in community theatre. It was timed perfectly with sharp, shock blackouts, subtle changes of lighting and perfectly timed and mixed soundscape that was as chilling as the action. And to add to the atmosphere the theatre itself was absolutely dark.
It was genuinely scary play. …. I found the performance quite outstanding. The two actors bonded into a terrific team and they produced taut and outstanding performances. … This is one play I would urge anyone to take a look at.
Eric Scott, 10.03.08, www.absolutetheatre.com.au
“It is the story of writer C.S. “Jack” Lewis and the love that came to him later in life in the person of American poet, divorcee Joy Gresham. … The action mainly focused on this pair, with interaction with Jack and his bachelor brother Major W.H. “Warnie” Lewis …… and fellow academics who wandered in an out of the plot line to add bits of information. These roles and sundry other characters were played by a bunch of competent actors ….. But the lynchpin of this production is the lead roles. They need to be acted out to the highest degree or the play, despite a fine script, would fade to oblivion. Director Brenda White was clever in casting two of Brisbane’s best community theatre actors for the show [Sandra Harman & Paul Careless] …. Sue Watson’s design worked well and covered several locations adequately. There was also some imaginative work behind the scrim … it is a production well worth a visit.”
Eric Scott, www.absolutetheatre.com.au – 14 May 2007
“Judith Prior’s piece lays no claims to depth or subtlety – it is described in the publicity as “a rollicking romp of unlikely proportions set on the high seas on the way to Australia” – so no-one need expect sophistication. There are two main scenes, one set in a court of law as various felons are sentenced to transportation, and the other on board the transport ship, with the Judge turned Captain and the convicts as crew. The text is larded with songs (audience participation compulsory), limericks, slapstick and one-line jokes. All of which seems much funnier than it deserves when one has eaten a delicious dinner washed down by a little wine. The ‘restaurant’ side of this theatre-restaurant experience was a huge success and the group is to be congratulated on excellent catering and superb organisation – something not always achieved by every group who attempts it. All of which contributed to an atmosphere of warmth and conviviality, giving the actors every chance to relax and enjoy themselves. … Clearly the cast enjoyed themselves and the director was proud of what she and they had achieved. Sue Watson and her team devised a very attractive set, the costumes looked good, the music contributed to the atmosphere and the audience was delighted and appreciative.”
Maureen Strugnell, www.stagediary.com, 29 July 2007
A Farce a trois – an evening of three one act plays
“These three short plays are typified as Mayhem – Music – Mirth. They deliver reasonably convincingly on all counts.”
Ruth Bonetti – www.stagediary.com, 28 May 2006
“It’s not often an amateur company puts on a season of one-act plays, but Centenary’s move proved to a good one. There were three different plays. They were all very funny, all directed with great attention to detail by Chris Guyler – and all three kept the opening night audience in a state of constant laughter.”
Eric Scott www.absolutetheatre.com.au, 13 May 2006
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
“…the play remains relevant …. and I don’t have too many complaints about it as an amateur production. And little theatre groups like this certainly have their place – they give actors experience, they attract small but faithful audiences, and most of all they give us the chance to see important plays that we would otherwise miss out on.”
Alison Cotes, www.stagediary.com, 23 July 2006
“This is one of those productions where the comedy script is wonderful and the actors gel beautifully to create an absolutely delightful evening of theatre. The director, John Boyce had a complete grasp of the script and the characters. It’s not often that a community theatre company can mount a show of this high quality. So its bouquets all round for this one. … It is an extremely clever script and this quartet of fine actors captured the quality and quaintness of the play. I urge anyone who enjoys a happy, well produced and well acted comedy with pace and understanding to pop along to Chelmer to see [it] …”
Eric Scott, www.absolutetheatre.com.au, 20 November 2006
“This final production for the year by Centenary (before its thirtieth birthday in 2007), is tight, well-paced and well-timed by John Boyce,”
Ron Finney, www.stagediary.com, 24 November 2006
The Gin Game
“The play won a Pulitzer Prize in 1978, and its energetic script is given the full treatment by director Gary O’Neil and those two great stalwarts of the Brisbane stage, Brian Cannon and Beverley Wood. It’s such a treat to see experienced, super-competent actors take on a taxing two-hander like this, and to know that nothing is going to go wrong. They handle it perfectly … This was such a good production … It proves that amateur theatre isn’t always for amateurs.”
Alison Cotes, Stagediary.com, 12.03.05
“The performances of both [Beverley Wood & Brian Cannon] were impeccable and the delivery of lines in this tragi-comedy was perfect. This show … is carefully crafted by two fine actors and is well worth a visit.”
Eric Scott, absolutetheatre.com.au, 03.03.05
“Silhouette is something different in the thriller genre, a whodunit with an extra twist. For a start it is played backwards … and the final twist had me completely fooled. So if you enjoy trying to work out who really did it and sorting through red herrings, this is the play for you.”
Eric Scott absolutetheatre.com.au, 3 May 2005
“Strong casting and performances, solid set design, good production values and tidy direction all combine to give the pay the best of all possible chances of succeeding … The Centenary Theatre Group have done a terrific job.”
Glen Player, stagediary.com, 23.07.05
“Producing a 1920s play is not the easiest of tasks. For one thing they tend to be terribly dated and use lots of words that have taken on a completely new meaning in modern times, and values and morality have long since changed. But Rope, although spattered with those odd-sounding words that should have changed to a more modern idiom in this production, and some stereotyped characters, held up surprisingly well in this Centenary Theatre Group production. This had to do with an array of excellent actors who took hold of the roles and made something solid out of them … Director Judith Barbeler had a good understanding of the text ….”
Eric Scott, absolutetheatre.com.au, 25.07.05
“This is not a ‘nice’ play. Centenary Theatre Group have done a fine job of presenting this unpalatable material to us. There are some solid performances from the cast … Technically Centenary have rendered wonderful work …. it is laudable that Centenary continue to choose dark and edgy material to offset the lighter comedies of their 2005 season, and the strength of the people within this production is enough to string any audience along.”
Bellman, M/C Reviews (www.reviews.media-culture.org.au) 31.07.05
“This is allegedly Australia’s most-performed play, seen by more Australians than any other musical, comedy or play, and under direction from Rod Felsch the Centenary Theatre Group performance was good fun, with the obvious unique format being much appreciated as demonstrated by the empty plates and plentiful applause. It was really pleasant to travel back in time for an evening and enjoy a play which was definitely a “no worries” evening full of fun and laughter.”
Daphne Haneman, stagediary.com, 12.11.05
Baby with the Bathwater
“(John Boyce) did his job well, the acting was superb and each weirdo character was portrayed in exactly the right way … But it’s well worth seeing for the acting, the laughs and the absurdity of the nicely crafted characters.”
Eric Scott (absolutetheatre.com.au), April 17, 2004
“Although the backdrop to Baby With the Bathwater could have been pulled from a Bjork video clip, it reflects the absurd and Absolutely Fabulous-ness of the story. It is over the top and very bright. As the characters are so unrealistic to begin with, an unrealistic set only complements the director’s good taste. … Those with a penchant for the risqué and an appreciation of nuances should get along to see this show. PS: Leave the kids at home as they might be afraid of Nanny.”
Pat Watson (Stage Diary) – 23 April 2004
“… the script contains many witty …. episodes .. and make for an enjoyable and original show … While … Ratbags won’t be cleaning up at the Tony awards for best musical any time soon, it is nevertheless an entertaining production that audiences young and old can enjoy for a pleasant night out.”
Simon Massey di Vallazza (Stagediary) 24 July 2004
“You can’t say the CTG don’t have variety in their annual program … this time going for very non-classic fun in Ratbags … Susan O’Toole did a fantastic job to get a cast of 28, many playing multiple roles, ready for a spirited opening night performance … [they] worked hard to make the world premiere of the play succeed more than it deserved”
Eric Scott (absolutetheatre.com.au) 30 July 2004
“This theatre group has done (the story) more than justice with a close attention to detail and extremely good directing …. You must see this”.
Oscar – The Independent
“… it’s another good night out from the Centenary Theatre Group.”
Eric Scott (absolutetheatre.com.au)
“Brenda White, … has brought this chilling ghost story of innocence and evil to life with a wonderful cast of children and adults that does much to build upon her fine reputation as a director with an eye for detail … 4 stars”
Nigel Munro Wallis (ABC Radio)
“Sets designed by the very clever Sue Watson have never disappointed me and this one is no exception. Attention to detail, from colour choices and window treatments to furniture and ornaments, means we are instantly transported to an English country home in the 1860s. Costumes are also well-chosen, creating a visually pleasing production. Director Brenda White has gone to great lengths to use the entire stage and create a good deal of movement in what could be a very stilted play if not directed well. Clever positioning of furniture and use of areas such as the stairs for some scenes ensures we never see the actors in one area of the stage for too long. This works extremely well and keeps the play moving at a good pace throughout.”
Andrea Carne (Stagediary) 11 June 2004
Chase Me Up Farndale Avenue Si’l Vous Plait
“The play just crackled along and was really very funny. It helps when you have a top class cast too, one that really knows how to deliver comic lines. It was a very well cast play …. The cast worked together to create belly laughs from beginning to end and had the audience responding with great glee.”
Eric Scott, absolutetheatre.com.au , 24 November 2004
” …There are indeed some nice performances from the cast who work hard from start to finish. … The set, complete with panels that fall down, doors that get jammed and furniture that collapses, has been designed well by the clever Sue Watson. Costumes are well chosen and the entire cast thoroughly enjoy themselves on stage. The audience seemed to like it too, which of course is the main thing.”
Andrea Carne, www.stagediary.com., 28 November 2004
Ring Round the Moon
“CTG has a good production on its hands here. Director Ron Finney has assembled a fine cast in a fast paced and amusing rendition of this charming play …. On the whole, the entire cast work together as a cohesive ensemble with entrances, exits and line delivery well-paced throughout …. Ron Finney has obviously spent a great deal of time working on the fast pace required to make the piece work …. Lighting, sound and a beautifully understated set designed by Sue Watson all contribute to a very polished production …”
Andrea Carne (Stagediary) 8 October 2004.
“Vocal work throughout the piece is outstanding. Even taking into account the small size of the theatre space it is refreshing to hear such good, uniform articulation and clarity. The entire cast excel …”
Bellman M/C Reviews – 16 October 2004 (www.reviews.media-culture.org.au)
“Delightful performance …. very slick and entertaining”
Olympia, The Independent, 14 October 2004
“Ring Round the Moon hits the high standards I’ve become accustomed to from the Centenary Group. It makes for a pleasant night at the theatre.”
Eric Scott, absolutetheatre.com.au, 13 October 2004
Anyone for Breakfast
“All the elements are there – some nice characterisations, a well-designed set and some great costuming – but it just seems under-rehearsed … That being said from a reviewer’s point of view, the success or failure of a production largely rests upon whether the audience enjoys it, and the comic situations certainly got plenty of laughs from the full house the night I went. The British farce, no matter what the critic thinks of it, is always a crowd pleaser.”
Andrea Carne (Review, Stagediary.com) – 30 November 2003
“Theatre has two hooks to lure you in: a good play and a good production. At a pinch, either should do, but what the audience hopes for is a good production of a good play. And that’s what it gets in Our Town …. Finney has done the play justice in his direction of a large cast with a considerable bounty of talent. Remarkably, on this small stage, the 14 actors work the space without it ever seeming crowded, and with a number of standout performances. … See it, and be touched.” –
Ann Ring (Review, Stagediary.com) – 20 September 2003
Wait Until Dark
” … Although a tad slow in some parts, Wait Until Dark moves along reasonably quickly and the finale is genuinely terrifying. …. Frederick Knott’s play is skillfully directed by Ron Kelly. He has managed to capture the true suspense and horror of the dark scenes …” –
Jack Hawke (Review, Stagediary.com) – 5 April 2003
“… A tightly worked play with good acting and characterisation and heaps of very tense moments’ –
Scottie (Review, www.suzieg.com) – 18 April 2003
The Children’s Hour
“A feature of The Children’s Hour is the performance of the seven young cast members who play students … of the more mature plays … all provide excellent moments. It’s a long show … yet it moves very quickly … the third act is particularly gripping as the awful results of the lies and accompanying innuendo become tragically obvious …”
John Algate (Review, Stagediary.com) – 2 August 2003
Lovers at Versailles
“.. ably performed by CTG … the production is well directed by Isabel Telford .. Lovers … is an enjoyable, funny and touching play” –
Edmund Tadros (Review, Stagediary.com) – 7 June 2003
“… 8½ out of 10…” –
Nigel Munro-Wallis – 612 ABC Radio – 12 June 2003
My Three Mothers-in-Law
“Eric Scott’s depth of experience – this is his 25th produced play – is demonstrated in the craft of his finely honed comedic dialogue ….. The production moves at a clipper pace … Scott, as director, has ensured that the performances by Kadell, Kelleher, Brenda Keith-Walker, Riley Fitzgerald and Scott as actor —— are evenly balanced. …. This was a 6pm Sunday evening performance by a small suburban company ….. The house was virtually full, which speaks volumes for the play, the production and the commitment of the company.”
Ron Finney (Review, Stagediary.com) – 11 August 2002
My Friend Miss Flint
“…Godfrey Bathurst stands out as Albert Larkin …. he shares the funniest scene in the show with … Anne Lyons. She has some great lines … Rhanie Grainger … does sass to a T as the mysterious Lucy Napier. Rob Attenborough oils his way through the key role of Tax Inspector Dodds with just the right amount of unctuous deviousness, while Selina Kadell plays Sarah Davenport … smoothly and with a nice degree of understatement. And the whole troupe sustains a very credible range of very English accents. … It aims to be a nice night’s entertainment, and in that, the audience was not disappointed at the well-attended performance I attended”
Anne Ring (Review, Stagediary.com) – 18 November 2001
“… All of the performances were very solid with sound support from Pam Alick as … Aunt Lavinia Penniman, Martin Blum as dubious suitor Morris Townsend, Samantha Porter (who managed to bring life & presence to the traditionally thankless role of the maid Maria … The action was played out against a single, and excellently designed set that gave the solidity of a comfortable middle-class sitting room … the characters – and especially the females – wore a splendid range of costumes and hats … It was a pleasure to get drawn into the drama of a traditional play of a bygone era”
Anne Ring (Review Stagediary.com) – 22 September 2001
Boss of the Pool
“The intellectually handicapped are one of those minorities who receive little attention in the creative arts. Issues such as the nature of institutional care and the need to recognise the basic humanity of the disabled are left alone … Hence Mary Morris has made a fine contribution in writing Boss … and the CTG are to be congratulated for tackling it. Lisa Hefford acts convincingly … Anthony West does an outstanding job .. Other roles are generally well cast and played … While the actors do well, it is evidence that Rod Felsch has used a deft hand in making it all happen. Transitions are smooth and scenes are well set … Centenary have, again, done a splendid job.”
John Henningham (Reviewer Stagediary.com) – 5 August 2001
“… In a well orchestrated production, director Len Granato and his determined cast of delightfully neurotic characters … inhabit a comedic twilight zone which is indeed ‘Beyond Therapy’. … The talents of the players are well balanced, secure and offer a warm ensemble feeling. … Walking into the Chelmer Community Centre I was nostalgically reminded of the early playing spaces of Brisbane Repertory, Brisbane Arts, the original Twelfth Night and the U of Q’s Avalon, where imagination made up for limited budgets .. Long may such venues survive in our suburbs presenting works with this production’s commitment to production values on a shoe-string …”
Ron Finney, Stagediary.com – 5 May 2001
“The play is well-cast and the actors seem to relish playing their well-drawn roles. The set and the lighting design were well-suited to the Chelmer Community Centre. The pace was brisk, and all lines were snappy and well delivered. It moved along nicely, running to just over two hours, including interval. Overall, Centenary Players has produced a faithful adaptation of Williamson’s play, one that leaves you thinking about the lines where truth and lies blur.”
Natalie Bochenski, Stagediary.com, 10 March 2001