This enduring classic from George Bernard Shaw was first produced in 1895 at the Playhouse Theatre. And almost exactly a year ago the STC mounted a production at the Opera House, directed by Richard Cotterill. But with all their lavish set and costumes I doubt they would have bested this little gem of a show at the Depot Theatre in Marrickville last night.
This is all the more remarkable considering the difference in venue and budget and the fact that for the latter part of the rehearsal period the director, Linda Beattie, was taken ill and the cast had to step to bring themselves and the production to opening night performance level! Indeed when I heard of Ms Beattie’s misfortune just prior to curtain up I was filled with misgivings about what I was to see. I need not have worried. This game little group of troupers delivered a delightful rendition of GBS’ masterful script that skipped along at a cracking pace.
The cast were all very good with stand out performances from Jodine Muir as RAINA, Amrik Tumber as CAPTAIN BLUNTSCHLI, (especially laudable considering his comparative lack of ‘runs on the boards’), and Angelina Andrews as LOUKA. (I challenged her not giving me a chocolate before the show as she circulated in character just to see what she would do – but, as always, experience will out!) Thus Will Reilly’s SERGIUS was delicious and Nicholas Gledhill, Denise Kitching and Ross Scott were all tasteful as the PETKOFF Household. There were no weak links and the ensemble cast were a credit to undoubtedly good early direction from Linda Beattie!
The costumes were more than adequate. The rather limited sets were reflective of obvious budget constraints although the furniture looked nice and the lighting and incidental music were fine under the circumstances.
This wonderful example of George Bernard Shaw using farce to examine the foibles of war and vain society in the late 19th century has always been one of my very favourite theatre pieces. This presentation was handled deftly with a light touch. Well done! Very enjoyable.
The Depot Theatre, rising out of the site of the old Sidetrack Theatre from the proud efforts of Julie Baz and David Jeffrey, is a worthy example of rebirth and rejuvenation. Long may it prosper!
ARMS AND THE MAN at The Depot Theatre, Marrickville 21st – 24th September.