The Reluctant Shopper

The Reluctant Shopper
By Bruce Hoogendoorn. Long Run Theatre Productions. Director: Bruce Hoogendoorn. Courtyard Studio, Canberra, 19–29 June 2013.

The Reluctant Shopper is built primarily on fine comedic writing. It is premised on the blackmail of big savers into spending in the local economy. Local Business Council executive Katrina obliges the smooth-talking Barry to blackmail a thrifty young man, Sam, into spending in the local shops something of the million dollars in his bank account.  Sam, of course, has no wish to spend, and the stage is set for a series of hilarious turns.

Of course, the play's comedy sugarcoats a soberer reality: that of the near-ubiquitous occupation in positions of power by manipulators and deceivers devoid of conscience and compassion. Even Barry's late humanitarian change of heart falls prey to the sociopathic corporate culture, in a conclusion that rings a note less of comic consistency than of inexplicable reversal and tragedy, both Barry's and society's.


Well-cast and -costumed, with a simple stage design and obviously intentionally basic musical soundtrack, the play moves along at a cracking pace from start to finish. The plot is simple enough, but the comedy is carried largely by the interactions between the blackmailed and the blackmailer. The performances of Rob de Fries, as Barry (the blackmailer), and of Brendan Kelly, as Sam (the victim), were particularly convincing.


John P. Harvey


Image: Rob de Fries and Elaine Noon, in The Reluctant Shopper.  Picture: Miriam-Miley Read

Subscribe to our E-Newsletter, buy our latest print edition or find a Performing Arts book at Book Nook.