THE BOOK CLUB @ The Ensemble Theatre

Amanda Muggleton wowing audiences. Production photography by  Thomas Blunt
Amanda Muggleton wowing audiences. Production photography by Thomas Blunt

The Ensemble Theatre  currently has a big membership drive going for its resident  Book Club.  There is a great deal on offer…

For the price of a regular theatre ticket you get to see an entertainment put on that combines the talents of three very fine, talented theatre-makers.

Roger Hall is a master of the middle class social comedy, best descriptor would be New Zealand’s equivalent of David Williamson. He is the scribe responsible for the  svelte smooth THE BOOK CLUB.

The helmer is none other than Rodney Fisher one of Australia’s finest directors and the deserved winner recipient of an Order Of Australia for his services to directing and writing.  The theatre program indicates that Rodney has been adapting, polishing and honing this Roger Hall; script since he took it to the Noosa Festival way back in  2008.

THE BOOK CLUB is a solo gig and how lucky are we to have the vivacious, ebullient Amanda Muggleton gracing the Ensemble stage and playing Hall’s fine character creation, Debbie, a middle-aged who is in a bit of a rut in her life – her kids have left home, and her husband spends most of his time  in front of the telly watching sport rather than having a romp in the bedroom.

Think along the lines of Shirley Valentine but instead of going to Greece, Debbie ventures to a very quirky Book Club egged on by her best friend, Trish. And yes, you guessed it…..Just like Shirley, Debbie has an extra-marital fling…Well, if the home fires aren’t burning what’s a poor girl to do?!

The audience revels in  seeing Muggleton impersonate the dozen or so Book Room ladies.

My show highlight was the great rapport that Muggleton built up with the audience during the show. Two  examples on the night that I went….

From early on in the show one could spot a very affable looking gentleman on the side front row having little naps. Well this did not go unnoticed by Muggleton who all of a sudden decided to go over to him and give him a bit of a nudge and a wake up call. He took it very good naturedly. From then on he became like a supporting actor in the show, with Muggleton regularly waltzing back to him and teasing him.

Another time, Muggleton, in character, was telling the audience that she had decided that she was going to confess her affair to her husband. In a kind of reflex emotion moment one of the women in the audience gasped ‘no..don’t do it’, and Muggleton astutely, with perfect timing, stepped out of character and said directly to the women  in the audience-‘ yes, darling, I agree with you …’ Brilliant stuff.

A final note about the show. Rodney Fisher’s set displayed an immaculate large bookshelf. Muggleton kept on diving into it to grab a book to chat to the audience with.. All I can say is I was very tempted to join  her … It seemed like a pretty impressive, eclectic book collection.

The  current membership closes on Saturday 3rd October. Join this Book Club now! The more members the merrier the time with the inimitable Ms Muggleton!