Out Of Order

Out Of Order
By Ray Cooney. Director: Bob Bramble. Basin Theatre Group (Vic) August 10th – Sept 1st.

Ray Cooney is no Will Shakespeare and may not appeal to intellectual aficionados of “The Theatre” but he certainly knows how to entertain an audience ----all he needs is a series of doors (and in this case a window) to create farce in the great traditions of  Commedia dell’arte. Forget about the plot…basically it’s about a government minister who arranges a tryst with an opposition secretary, only to find a “dead” body lodged in the window of the suite at their Westminster hotel. The rest concerns how to avoid yet another government scandal, with mistaken identities and dead bodies aplenty to confuse us.

I must give kudos to BTG for choosing the play and knowing their audience, and for a terrific night of laughs and entertainment. Bob Bramble’s sure and deft hand as a director works on every level and there are some delicious bits of stage “business” which got the laughs they richly deserved. Brett Hyland as the conniving minister, Richard Willey, is a major force. He truly understands farce and the levels of attack it needs to have credibility. While his performance is perhaps too large for the size of the theatre, it is imbued with tremendous energy and fabulous nuances and gestures. Tyson White is terrific as the hapless PPS George Pigden. It’s a performance to be treasured for its subtlety and comic timing. These two shine in a cast which offers good performances across the board, though the female roles don’t present as much opportunity to impress. Still, Ange Ellis as Gladys, (the nurse) made a big impact and has a delightful personality onstage; James Macrae (almost 84) is a delight in all respects as The Waiter, but a little more projection would have helped counter Brett Hyland’s abundance of voice; and Chris Shaw, as the body, was hysterical, stealing almost every scene.

It’s always a delight to discover a new (to me) Community Theatre, and The Basin comes with so many surprises. There is ample free parking, complimentary sherry and a programme before the performance, refreshments in the interval, and supper and wine with the cast after the show, all included in the meagre ticket price: Marvellous value for a night out in a comfortable theatre with warm and friendly staff. I’m looking forward to their next offering Over My Dead Body which opens on Nov 9th. I will definitely be back.

Coral Drouyn

Images: (top) Sarah King, Tyson White, Brett Hyland and James McRae & (lower) Chris Shaw and Lachlan McGill.

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