Michael Lawrence, Melanie Pennisi and Rod Felsch.
Photos by Dan Ryan
There Goes the Bride
By Ray Cooney and John Chapman
Directed by Janine Francis
Centenary Theatre Group
Chelmer Community Hall
Corner of Queenscroft and Halsbury Streets
Season: November 4-25. Duration: two hours including interval. Bookings: 0435 591 720 or www.centenarytheatre.com.au
The farce is rarely seen in Australian professional theatre these days and the Cooney/Chapman style seems to have drifted even from community theatre, why I don’t know. I sat and laughed my head off at Centenary Theatre’s production of There Goes the Bride along with the rest of the opening night audience.
The script is brilliantly written; it is funny and riddled with great characters. Mind you it takes talent to convey comedy. Timing is essential. The Centenary cast had talent aplenty and comic timing was sharp.
Not a laugh was missed and characters were sustained throughout.
Top marks to director Janine Francis for her sound casting and attention to details (the costuming was top rate too).
The plot line is simple: It's the morning of Judy Westerby 's wedding and her harried ad agency executive father, gets banged on the head and starts to imagine that a promotional prop has come to life.
The whole family gets caught up in the confusion as Tim Westerby carries on with his new girl friend. Poor Judy, nicely played by Lauren Thompson, is suitably distraught over getting married without her father to give her away at the altar. She spends most of her stage time rushing through the double doors to the safety of her bedroom.
At the beginning of the play Timothy Westerby has devises an ad campaign for a bra company, based on the 1920s flapper.
Westerby fantasizes that a cardboard cut out of the flapper girl (Polly Perkins) has magically come to life and is trying energetically to seduce him.
It’s all fun and games then as Polly flits around the stage unseen by anyone but Timothy. A couple more knocks on the head add even more hilarity to the show.
The entire cast was up to the job of entertaining us, Helen Ekundayo was a beautifully bewildered mother of the bride, Ursula Westerby.
Nathaniel Young was Bill Shorter, Westerby’s business partner. He was excellent too with his laid back manner as he tried to calm down the situation and bring some semblance of order to the rapidly deteriorating wedding plans.
Michael Lawrence as Timothy Westerby was terrific. He nailed his character from the word go and was smoothly confident all the way through and Melanie Pennisi was the perfect Polly Perkins.
She looked the part and was completely believable as the newly created creature that had no past life. I thoroughly enjoyed her performance.
Centenary regular Jill Brocklebank was good too as the Daphne Grimmond, grandmother of the bride.
I reckon though that within this group of great characters that of Granddad, Gerald Grimmond, is a runaway winner. I played the role myself 20-odd years ago and loved every stage minute. He has the best of the lines, some hilarious exits, and entrances and is always funny. Rod Felsch played the role superbly and his comic timing was impeccable.
Finally, fronting up only in Act Two, was the Aussie father of the groom Charles Babcock, who was played by Brad Oliver. It was funny in itself hearing the Aussie accent, mouthing words written by Englishmen for an English audience. It stuck out like a sore thumb and it just showed how well the UK accents were performed by the cast.
The show was first produced in 1973 and, like all great comedy, still manages to be funny these years later.
It is another top production from this fine little theatre company.
Helen Ekundayo. Rod Felsch, Michael Lawrence, Jill Brocklebank, Melanie Pennisi and Nathaniel Young