A night filled with quirky characters and situations generating plenty of humour is in store for you if make your way across to see the current Ensemble show.
With THE GOOD DOCTOR, Neil Simon mines the work of Anton Chekhov and comes up with a collection of appealing vignettes, tinged with absurdism.
The pieces are excellent ‘vehicles’ for actors, representing good opportunities for the cast of five to show their range and flair. And with the assist of Bates’ astute direction, that’s just what they do.
In A Defenceless Creature, Kate Raison was on fire as an uptight ‘madwoman’ harassing a conservative, frazzled banker for some money for her ailing husband. As the gruff banker who soon loses his patience, David Lynch’s stolid manner was a great counterpoint to Raison’s bluster.
In Surgery, Nathan Wilson was wonderfully manic as an earnest dentist using some very old, large, menacing instruments and doing more damage than good to his patient.
In The Seduction, Adriano Cappelletta (who has temporarily stepped in to the main role as the narrator/Chekhov figure as well as a number of other roles at close to the last moment whilst Glenn Hazeldine recovers from a car accident) was suitably charismatic and creepy as a compulsive seducer of married woman, with Chloe Bayliss equally convincing as his latest demure, coy victim.
In the more reflective Too Late For Happiness, David Lynch and Kate Raison poignantly play out a hopeful meeting between a lonely older man and woman.
The least convincing piece was The Audition in which Chloe Bayliss plays an actress who has walked four days from Odessa to Moscow to audition for a new play by her favourite playwright (Chekhov) and is more than a little starstruck. The audition sees her recite passages from The Three Sisters. This piece felt a little out of place and heavy, and came across a bit flat.
The current production represents a milestone for the Company. It is the last production that Bates is directing whilst in the position of Artistic Director (for a few years now jointly with Mark Kilmurry, who takes over solo in 2016), a position she has served for thirty years. During her time, Bates has set the set bar high; theatre patrons have had the expectation when they go to the Ensemble that they will see entertaining and often thought provoking plays that will be given worthy productions. Hopefully the high standard will continue as Kilmurry takes over full reigns.
Recommended, Sandra Bates’ production of Neil Simon’s THE GOOD DOCTOR opened at the Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli on Wednesday 2nd December and is playing until Sunday 17th January. The production then travels to Belrose’s Glen Street theatre where it will play for one week between the 19th to the 24th January 2016.