THEATRE BY FRANK McKONE
Are You Being Served? by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft. Tempo Theatre at Belconnen Community Centre December 4-6, 10-13, 2003, 8pm (Matinees December 6 and 13, 2pm). Bookings: ANU Ticketing 6125 5491.
The actors have done well in re-creating the characters from this once popular British television series. Although their main task was to imitate rather than create original roles, everyone had clearly defined their character's mannerisms, foibles and attitudes and successfully produced consistent figures in three dimensions. Their hard work was evident and well appreciated by the audience.
The result is quite enjoyable light entertainment despite weaknesses in direction and design. Director Kim Wilson had to also fill in as Mr Rumbold at the late stages when the original actor dropped out -- an unfortunate but common experience in amateur companies -- and may therefore not have been able to polish the speed and pacing up to what is required for British farce. However the show should pick up on these points, especially for the night when, I am told, a large contingent of employees from our very own Grace Bros will be on hand. Not that I can imagine such non-politically correct behaviour in the Belconnen Mall establishment!
Wilson noted in the program he "found [the script] had its challenges to bring it to the medium of live theatre". These challenges were not well solved. We sat in silence facing a blank curtain for some minutes before a brief and indistinct recording of the TV intro faded into morning greetings as characters appeared on the shop floor from the lift. All too slow on stage, though it had worked on the screen with close-ups of facial expressions and rapid cut aways. We needed bright music like Rule Brittania before and between acts. If the opening had been of the characters rehearsing their German slap-thigh dance, action and laughs would have got the show moving at once and warmed the audience up. The actual dance later in the first act certainly got a good reaction, and could have been used again at the end for the curtain call. Then we could all have marched out to Rule Brittania.
Simple theatrical devices like these would make this show more lively and more fun.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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