Foiled by Dame Christie’s trickery?

A couple of months ago I held my breath and ventured to the local theatre only to find myself very impressed with Hervey Bay’s Z-Pac Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

In fact, the show was so remarkable I wonder if it set the bar too high for subsequent productions.

I know it’s kinda tragic but I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan – something I’ve confessed to in my Debbish blog. So, it was with great excitement that I went along to Z-Pac’s A Murder is Announced during its current season.

From The Fraser Coast Chronicle

From The Fraser Coast Chronicle

And… I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed.

Most of the cast were great, with Lorraine Lee’s Bunny, Brownwyn Bennett’s Mitzi and the younger cast the standouts.

I met Director Ken Lee at an arts event a month or so before the play and he mentioned the difficulty in translating Christie’s work for the stage. Perhaps that was partially the problem. It all seemed a little clunky to me and my friends and I agreed we were holding our breath on occasions, lest the actors forget their words or fluff their lines.

As I have a memory like a sieve and lack the confidence required to perform for an audience I have nothing but admiration for all of the cast and crew. So, while not having the panache of Z-Pac’s earlier Earnest, A Murder is Announced made for an entertaining evening out and I don’t feel the need to discount the local theatre anytime soon.

Good, not bad; charming not tedious

“It is absurd to divide people into good or bad. People are either charming or tedious.” Oscar Wilde

A couple of weeks ago I shuffled off to Hervey Bay’s Z-Pac theatre in Zephyr Street, to see its production of  The Importance of Being Earnest.

I have to admit to practically being a local theatre virgin, vaguely recalling a play I saw in my hometown of Maryborough back in my school days, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. My fellow theatre-goer and I decided we shouldn’t be too judgemental and I (quite possibly) set the what-will-I-think-of-this bar quite low.

And was I surprised!?! (Hint: it’s a rhetorical question!)

The two male leads were superb. Bradley Chapman, the play’s director, was excellently annoying as Algernon Moncrieff… one of the play’s two E(a)rnests. His performance and Wilde’s words resulting in much chuckling and guffawing. Michael Ware as John Worthing was also excellent and his frustrated E(a)rnest was convincing. My personal fave was probably Tamara Bailey’s Lady Bracknell (Algernon’s aunt and mother to John’s love interest). Her haughty and comedic delivery was perfect.

Taylor Dunn and Tayla Harding were great as Gwendolyn and Cecily and I was mightily impressed by Jonathon Dunn’s changing accents in his dual roles. In fact, I was quite shocked that the cast maintained their English accents for the entire play. No easy feat I assume.

And as for the script / dialogue…. how they could memorise those lines is beyond me. I can barely remember my own phone number! *Insert slight pause while I try to test this assertion!*

The production was polished, sets simple but effective and costumes good. I particularly liked the segway between the first two acts and the move from London to Herfortshire… it was very smooth in its unashamed obviousness (Dunn’s dual character physically changing – jacket, boots and hat – from Algernon’s supercilious butler to John’s ummm… more-common manservant).

All in all it was an excellent start to my local theatre-going adventures and I’ll certainly be back for more. In fact… I even downloaded a Z-Pac application form wondering if I could be of some use behind the scenes!

*Photograph compliments of The Fraser Coast Chronicle.

Z-PAC: The Importance of Being Earnest

Rehearsals are underway for an Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, which will open at Z-PAC Theatre, Zephyr Street Scarness on Friday 22 March.

Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, has stood the test of time like so few others. This is a farcical comedy of manners that is often regarded as one of the greatest plays of all time.

Wilde’s acerbic wit and tantalising manipulation of the English language have crafted a satire so perfect it has remained unmatched for well over a century.

The play follows Jack and Algernon: two bachelors in Victorian England who, bored with the hypocritical nature of their society, both adopt the pseudonym ‘Ernest’ to escape from their routine lives.

When Jack falls in love with the sharp-tongued Gwendolen, and Algernon with Jack’s innocent ward Cecily, whilst both under the guise of Ernest, each man must find a way to shed his alias without disrupting the delicate thread of romance.

The production stars Michael Ware as the nervous and uptight Jack, Taylor Dunn as his icy girlfriend Gwendolen, and welcomes another talented newcomer, Tayla Harding, who brings an air of sweetness to the role of the innocent Cecily.  Familiar faces of Z-PAC regulars Judith La Forest – as Cecily’s tutor Miss Prism, a kind lady with a dark past – and Tamara Bailey as Gwendolen’s draconic mother, Lady Bracknell.  Neil Gee brings a gentle naivety to the role of Dr Chasuble, and Jonathan Dunn is hilarious as Algernon’s long-suffering butler.

Z-PAC’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest is directed by newcomer Bradley Chapman, who also plays Algernon. Brad,  a Gold Coast native who arrived at Z-PAC Theatre last year. A senior drama teacher at Hervey Bay High School, Brad holds a Bachelor’s Degree in drama and film and another in secondary education, with a Performer’s Certificate from Trinity College of London. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to direct this masterpiece.

The show is rated ‘G’ and runs from March 22nd ’til April 13th.  Tickets on sale soon at Mary Ryan Bookshop, Pialba.  Adults $20, Concessions and/or groups 10+ $17.