Murder on the Menu

Murder on the Menu
Written by Devon Williamson. Directed by Adelle O’Connell. Presented by Mates Theatre Genesis. Donald Simpson Centre, Cleveland Qld. 17 – 26 May, 2024

When it comes to community theatre, the magic often lies in the palpable enthusiasm of the cast and crew. Murder on the Menu, penned by Devon Williamson and staged by Mates Theatre Genesis, is a prime example of this. The show, running from May 17 to 26 at the Donald Simpson Centre, offers a riotous blend of comedy, clever writing, and genuine joy that will leave audiences thoroughly entertained.

Williamson's script is not only amusing but also built on a wonderfully whimsical premise. The plot centres on Sophia, portrayed by Amanda Lay, who is duped by her well-meaning yet meddlesome friend Skye into purchasing a dilapidated theatre. Sophia's financial woes and joblessness push her to the brink, prompting her to turn the decrepit theatre into a cafe.

Her problems are compounded when she discovers the theatre is haunted by the grandiose ghosts of Shakespearean characters, determined to preserve their spectral abode. The only way to evict these spirits? Re-enact their Shakespearean deaths. The storyline is refreshingly unpredictable, a rarity in many contemporary scripts. The plot twist at the denouement is genuinely surprising.

The infectious energy of the actors is evident from the very start. Amanda Lay’s performance as Sophia is a standout, bringing a heartfelt authenticity to the role. Her grounded portrayal acts as the perfect foil to Brodie Cooper’s hilariously over-the-top Skye. Their dynamic is the heart of the show, and their chemistry keeps the audience engaged from start to finish. Supporting them is a dedicated ensemble cast, including Traci Sumpter (Macbeth), Peta Townend (Lady Macbeth), Kath Kunde (Hamlet), Maddy Robinson (Ophelia), Issy Wilkes (Romeo), and Alexandra Tabrett (Juliet). Each actor brings their ghostly Shakespearean character back from the dead with courage and humour.

Adelle O’Connell’s direction is quirky and creative, perfect for this script. The handmade and crocheted props, and low-tech special effects add a charming touch to the production, infusing scenes with an extra dose of fun. Alexandra Tabrett’s costume design is effective, with Romeo’s tights and oversized cup providing many laugh-out-loud moments.

The technical aspects of the production, managed by Mike Daniell (Lighting and Sound Design) and Roy Ball (Sound Tech), are crucial to the play's success. The clever use of lighting and sound enhances the comedic and eerie elements of the story, while the music choices elevate the humour further.

Murder on the Menu is a must-see for anyone seeking lots of laughter and clever storytelling, so long as you’re not easily spooked. The dedication and passion of Mates Theatre Genesis shines through, making for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Whether you're a fan of Shakespeare, comedy, or feel-good theatre, this production is sure to delight.

Kitty Goodall

Images by Kris Anderson, Images by Anderson: (top) L – R Alexandra Tabrett (Juliet) and Issy Wilkes (Romeo); (middle) L-R Amanda Lay (Sophia) and Brodie Cooper (Skye), and (bottom) L-R Maddy Robinson (Ophelia) and Kath Kunde (Hamlet). 

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